March 29, 2011 — Abortion-rights activists and Democratic lawmakers on Monday warned that Republican proposals to defund Planned Parenthood and eliminate funding for the Title X family planning program amount to a "war on women" and represent the biggest threat to reproductive rights since the U.S. Supreme Court granted women the right to choose in 1973, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. More than 700 advocates, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), gathered at NARAL Pro-Choice America's annual "Power of Choice" luncheon in San Francisco, Calif., on Monday (Marinucci, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/29).
The House-approved continuing resolution (HR 1) for fiscal year 2011 eliminates funding for the Title X family planning program, which helps provide family planning and reproductive health services to low-income women, including contraceptive counseling and supplies, pelvic exams, breast and cervical cancer screening, safer-sex counseling and basic infertility counseling. The continuing resolution also includes an amendment, introduced by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), to block federal funding for Planned Parenthood (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/23).
Pelosi said Republicans have been on an "ideological harangue." She added that GOP lawmakers need "a lesson in the birds and bees," saying, "If you don't want to terminate a pregnancy, you might want to prevent it. Family planning funding? People really get this. Does that give you any picture of how insulting their mentality is?"
In an interview with the Chronicle, NARAL Pro-Choice America President Nancy Keenan noted that at the same time Republicans in Congress work to block funding for family planning services, Republicans in the states have introduced legislation that would restrict abortion access. She said, "Republicans are not only going into the personal lives of women and family -- they're overstepping into the private sector."
At the meeting, Speier said Republicans are "making it a pre-existing condition to be a woman," adding, "It is time for all of us to speak up."
Although four Republican senators have expressed their opposition to the cuts, Keenan said, "it's not what they say," but "how they vote. And what you're seeing at the end of the day is a vote to defund Planned Parenthood -- and that's wrong" (San Francisco Chronicle, 3/29).
Editorial Questions Four Republicans' Opposition to Family Planning Cuts
Republican Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.), Susan Collins (Maine), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) "voted in lockstep with the rest of their caucus in support of the House Republicans' ludicrous and destructive budget-slashing bill," but now they have "put out word that they did not much like it that the bill had eliminated one popular and valuable government program: funds for family planning," a New York Times editorial states.
According to the Times, the senators could have "voted no in the first place and -- who knows? -- struck a spark for the art of compromise." The editorial states, "[W]e would like to believe that [their opposition to the cuts] is the start of something big: a rejection of scorched-earth polarization and the beginning of a serious discussion of the role and responsibility of government in tough budget times."
The Times concludes, "The real test will come soon," adding, "True moderates do not shut the government's doors for the sake of ideology or cynical political gain" (New York Times, 3/28).
Debra Ness, publisher & president, National Partnership
Andrea Friedman, associate editor & director of reproductive health programs, National Partnership
Marya Torrez, associate editor & senior reproductive health policy counsel, National Partnership
Melissa Safford, associate editor & policy advocate for reproductive health, National Partnership
Perry Sacks, assistant editor & health program associate, National Partnership
Cindy Romero, assistant editor & communications assistant, National Partnership
Justyn Ware, editor
Amanda Wolfe, editor-in-chief
Heather Drost, Hanna Jaquith, Marcelle Maginnis, Ashley Marchand and Michelle Stuckey, staff writers
Tucker Ball, director of new media, National Partnership