The War Against Planned Parenthood Is Advancing
by TARA CULP-RESSLER –
Despite a complete lack of evidence that Planned Parenthood is breaking any laws, Republican lawmakers are pressing ahead with their relentless crusade against the national women’s health organization.
A series of heavily edited videos accusing Planned Parenthood of selling aborted baby parts continues to influence the national debate, even though it’s become clear those claims aren’t based in fact. Last month, a Houston grand jury concluded that Planned Parenthood hasn’t done anything wrong. Every state-level investigation into the group has come up empty.
But that’s made no difference to the GOP politicians who are insistent on using this discredited information to attack Planned Parenthood. It’s working. In several states this week, Republican leaders successfully advanced their efforts to undermine the organization’s work.
Earlier this month, the Ohio legislature approved a bill to strip funding from Planned Parenthood, and Gov. John Kasich (R) announced that he’s prepared to sign it this weekend. The legislation will eliminate nearly $1.4 million in funds that Planned Parenthood currently uses for HIV testing, programs that support mothers through pregnancy, and sex education for foster children, among other public health areas. The bill cites the misleading video campaign to justify the cuts to the organization, even though Ohio’s attorney general has cleared the state’s Planned Parenthood clinics of any unlawful acts.
Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed two pieces of legislation this week that will result in millions of dollars of funding cuts to Planned Parenthood. The first bill restricts how much Planned Parenthood can be reimbursed for prescription drugs. The second bill prevents Planned Parenthood from using federal family planning funds to treat low-income patients. Taken together, the organization anticipates losing out on about $8 million in funds. The governor signed the bills into law on Thursday at an anti-abortion crisis pregnancy center, over Planned Parenthood’s protests that the move will harm the estimated 60,000 women it serves in Wisconsin.
Gov. Matt Bevin (R) filed a lawsuit against Planned Parenthood this week claiming that its clinics have performed illegal abortions in his state. His administration is seeking more than $900,000 in fines for allegedly performing 23 abortions without a license. The contents of the official complaint, however, reveal that Planned Parenthood wasn’t exactly trying to circumvent the law. Former Gov. Steve Beshear’s administration gave the organization permission to perform abortions at its clinic in Louisville before the staunchly anti-abortion Bevin took over the governor’s mansion this year.
Thanks to the recent grand jury decision in Houston — the result of the only criminal trial brought against Planned Parenthood in the aftermath of the video smear campaign — Texas lawmakers have especially compelling reasons to drop the crusade against Planned Parenthood. But that’s not what’s happening in the Lone Star State. Instead, Republican leaders are resisting any evidence that their efforts to defund Planned Parenthood are harming women. This week, they forced out a senior Texas health official who co-authored a report that concluded the state’s recent funding cuts prevented women from accessing reproductive health care. Texas Republicans, who claim that the state’s family planning network is doing just fine despite all proof to the contrary, said it was inappropriate for a state employee to be involved in that report.