Senate Blocks Anti-Choice Push; States Keep It Up

Democrats in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday turned back a House spending bill, lifting the cleaver hanging over funds for Planned Parenthood and other family-planning programs while intensifying suspense about whether Congress can pass a budget in time to keep the federal government open.

“We commend fair-minded senators for rejecting the anti-choice House leadership’s efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and dismantle the nation’s family-planning centers,” said Nancy Keenan, president of the Washington-based NARAL Pro-Choice America, in a press statement following news of the vote.

“Unfortunately, the Senate action coincides with a War on Women in the House that continues to escalate. This extreme and far-reaching agenda is a wake-up call to Americans, who are realizing just how much time and energy anti-choice lawmakers are willing to expend attacking a woman’s right to choose instead of focusing on the jobs agenda that they promised Americans,” she added.

Keenan reported that the House Ways and Means subcommittee has scheduled a hearing on H.R.3, the “Stupak on Steroids” bill, for March 16. That bill blocks private insurance plans from covering abortion care in the new health-care system and imposes tax penalties on small-business owners and many other individuals who purchase private insurance plans that cover abortion care. The legislation now has 219 co-sponsors, enough votes to pass the House.

The Senate vote also saves, or at least stalls, deep cuts in U.S. international aid to family planning, which faced a 32-percent lop from 2010 spending levels, according to a Feb. 14 report by Ms. Magazine.

The rejected budget bill included a $210 million cut in Maternal and Child Health block grants and $1.83 billion cut in Head Start from 2010 spending levels. The Violence Against Women Act would have seen its funding slashed by $170 million this year.,1


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