Spending Bill Spares Planned Parenthood

Spending Bill Spares Planned Parenthood

Despite months of Republican threats and political bluster, a recently-unveiled $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill that will fund the government until October 2016 includes no cuts to Planned Parenthood’s federal funding or to abortion access.

The deal follows weeks of hostile negotiations on Capitol Hill. At stake were funds not only for Planned Parenthood, but also for sex education and family planning programs. Conservatives on Capitol Hill had also proposed additional abortion restrictions. (Earlier this month, House Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, of Illinois, had said “all hell will break loose” if Republicans tried to cram anti-abortion language into the final bill.)

While it’s a good bill, women’s reproductive health advocates said, it’s not a perfect bill.

“This fight isn’t over — we still need to work to make sure women’s access to health care is protected,” said Dana Singiser, vice president of public policy for Planned Parent Action Fund, in a statement released today. “The need for family planning and teen pregnancy investments is far greater than the investments in the FY16 spending bill—over 4 million women and men nationwide rely on Title X, the nation’s family planning program, for access to essential care like birth control and cancer screenings; and thanks in part to the Teen Pregnancy Prevention program, teen pregnancy is at historic lows in America.”

Singiser also said the government should increase investments in “good programs that work” rather than allowing “progress [to] flatline.” Specifically, she pointed to a small cut to the United National Population Fund, a UN family planning agency, and argued this will have a harmful impact on women’s health around the world.

Heritage Action for America, the advocacy arm of the influential conservative think tank the Heritage Foundation, has been calling upon Republicans to oppose any spending bill that does not include a rider to defund Planned Parenthood. The group is now lobbying lawmakers to vote “no” on the overall bill, which both the House and the Senate are expected to pass by the end of the week. Republicans may have been responding to public polls showing broad support for reproductive health, even amid recent GOP attacks on Planned Parenthood and its allies.

A new national poll released this month found  nearly 60 percent of Americans oppose cutting off federal funds for Planned Parenthood.