Today, after months of attacks on Planned Parenthood and women's reproductive health from Republicans in Congress, over 2,000 women and men gathered on the National Mall to stand with Planned Parenthood at the Rally for Women’s Health. With the Capitol in the background, senators, women’s health advocates, celebrities, and activists swore to protect women's rights.
The rally comes as lawmakers on Capitol Hill are locked in a battle over the budget and a deal on funding for Planned Parenthood is likely to determine whether the government stays open or not. As of today, talks between President Obama, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, and Speaker John Boehner had stalled because of the riders, including defunding Planned Parenthood, that Republicans have attached to the budget.
It’s unfortunate -- though not surprising -- that a budget deal might come down to an ideological battle over abortion that has little to do with saving money. In fact, defunding Planned Parenthood would increase the deficit. As Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards told the crowd, “Politicians on Capitol Hill want to take health care away from women. These cuts won’t save the government a single dime.”
If there’s a political takeaway from today, it’s that getting an anti-abortion, anti-family planning budget through the Senate is very unlikely. “These dangerous ideological cuts to Planned Parenthood that passed the House are never, never, never going to pass the Senate,” Sen. Chuck Schumer assured the crowd.
If the budget the Republicans are promoting were to pass, services like cancer screenings, family planning, and basic health care for low-income women could become obsolete. Today, at least, Sen. Barbara Boxer promised that wouldn’t happen, saying, “We’re here to send a powerful message. We’re not going to stand idly by as women’s rights and women’s health come under attack. We’re going to fight back.”