On Tuesday, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe vetoed a bill that would have eliminated some of funding received by Planned Parenthood and other organizations that perform abortion services. The bill, HB 2264, was introduced by Delegate Benjamin L. Cline and was approved 60-33 in the House of Delegates before being passed last week by the Senate.
HB 2264 would have specifically cut off Title X funding to organizations that perform abortion despite the fact that Title X funding does not directly pay for those services due to the longstanding Hyde Amendment, instead funding STI/STD testing, cancer screenings and birth control access for women who do not qualify for Medicaid but cannot afford health insurance.
Title X of the Public Health Services Act is the only federal domestic program that is exclusively concerned with providing funds for family planning and reproductive health services. Title X funding is awarded through competitive grants to whichever healthcare providers prove they are best qualified for meeting the needs of the communities they serve.
McAuliffe vetoed a similar Title X funding bill last year. The Delegate who introduced the bill expressed a hope that the General Assembly would be able to override the Governor’s veto.
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 230-188 to rescind an Obama administration rule, finalized in December, that was meant to block states from being able to cut off funding to organizations that offer abortion care. It is expected to successfully pass through the Senate. Since 2011, 13 states have passed legislation restricting clinics that offer abortion services from accessing Title X funds.
In 2015, over 4 million people received healthcare from over 3,900 facilities funded under Title X. According to the Center for American Progress, women’s health centers who receive money through Title X prevent 1 million unintended pregnancies each year that would have otherwise resulted in 501,000 more unplanned births and 345,000 more abortions.
Republicans in Congress have attempted to eliminate Title X funding completely in every Congress for the last seven years while claiming that women seeking reproductive health services can go to other clinics funded by Title X if abortion providers are forced to shut down.
In addition to attempting to eliminate and allowing states to block women’s health centers from accessing Title X funding, the House is also working on a measure that would block Planned Parenthood from receiving any Medicaid reimbursement for servicing low-income patients. Planned Parenthood provides healthcare to 2.5 million people each year and estimates that 80 percent of those services are to prevent unintended pregnancy.
Almost two weeks ago, anti-abortion groups held protests outside of Planned Parenthood clinics across the country to advocate for defunding the healthcare organization. They were met by thousands of abortion rights advocates in 45 states who oftentimes outnumbered the anti-abortion demonstrators.
Media Resources: The Loudoun Times-Mirror 2/7/17; Virginia’s Legislative Information System 2017 Session; The Feminist Majority Foundation 12/15/16, 2/16/17; Richmond Times Dispatch 1/21/17; Vox 2/16/17