Conservative Republicans in the U.S. House and Senate have pledged to shut down the federal government if Planned Parenthood, the country’s largest provider of reproductive health care services, continues to receive federal funds. On Sept. 28, U.S. Reps. Gwen Moore (D-Wis.) and Alma Adams (D-N.C.) spoke about their support of Planned Parenthood.
“Planned Parenthood has played a vital role in communities of color and women of color in particular,” Moore said. “Conservatives are using pro-Black slogans such as ‘Black Lives Matter’ in order to push their agenda of preventing women of color the right to determine what to do with their bodies. Planned Parenthood doesn’t just do abortions but it offers comprehensive services for low-income women of any race who don’t have health insurance.”
Democrats favor keeping Planned Parenthood in the federal budget and if the two sides can’t reach an agreement, the federal government will go out of business on Oct. 1. “I stand before you today as an angry Black woman,” Adams said. “The GOP wants to regulate women’s bodies and that’s not right. A woman’s health is a personal decision between herself, her doctor and her family and not the government or any governor, senator, or representative.”
Planned Parenthood has long been opposed by Republicans; however recent videos purporting to show the organization selling aborted fetuses has further fueled conservative legislators’ contention of the organization. Planned Parenthood has denied the allegations. While federally-funded abortions are illegal, organizations such as Planned Parenthood can receive federal funds because performing abortions isn’t its primary function. Adams said that only three percent of Planned Parenthood activities and services are abortion related while 90 percent of its services are preventive health care.
There is one female member of the Congressional Black Caucus that doesn’t support Planned Parenthood.
“This is not about a right or left issue; this is about right or wrong,” Rep. Mia Love (R-Utah) Love told Fox News on Aug. 20. “When asked about the millions of abortions that take place each year, she said “as long as I’m here, it’s my job to do whatever I can to get colleagues on both sides of the aisle to see what’s happening.”
The Planned Parenthood debacle is believed to have been one of the reasons U.S. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will resign from Congress at the end of the October.
Courtney Everett, one of the speakers at the press conference, said Planned Parenthood has been a help to her. “I suffer from endometriosis, a disease in which tissue that normally grows inside the uterus grows outside the uterus, causing a lot of pain in the pelvis,” Everett said. “I was suffering from this while I was in graduate school at DePaul University and I didn’t have the money to get medication. I went to Planned Parenthood and they helped me with getting the medication.”
Everett said Planned Parenthood stood by her and she will stand by it in its fight against being defunded.
Natarsha McQueen, a seven-year breast cancer survivor, said Planned Parenthood helped her with her fight against the disease. Cazemba Jackson, a transgender male, said Planned Parenthood is one of the few places in the country where people like him aren’t mistreated. “If Planned Parenthood is defunded, it’s not just women who will be affected,” he said.
Attending the press conference, but not speaking, was a representative of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a Black conservative organization. CURE’s President, Star Parker, doesn’t support the Black female lawmakers’ position. “We are tired of Planned Parenthood calling on Black women to save them every time they get exposed for breaking the criminal and civil laws of this nation,” Parker said in a statement. “We are tired of them re-employing the Negro Project, trotting out Black legislators and women to cover their real mission of ‘getting rid of the populations we don’t want too many of’ as Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in 2009.”
The Senate voted to protect a spending bill that does not include a provision to strip funding from the organization by a vote of 77-19 on Sept. 28. The Associated Press reports that the Senate is expected to approve the bill and send it to the House.