WASHINGTON D.C. – The Senate (65-32) and U.S. House of Representatives (256-167) advanced an agreement to fund the federal government through Sept. 30, 2018. Despite continued attacks from anti-reproductive health policymakers who sought to eliminate funding for essential reproductive health and education programs, the nation’s family planning program Title X, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP), and international family planning programs can continue to provide critical services to those who rely on them for much needed care. The spending bill maintains current funding levels for these programs, even as the Trump-Pence administration has taken steps to undermine the TPPP program, subvert the goals of the Title X program, and threaten to eliminate international family planning programs. Ideological, anti-women’s health policy riders — which could have blocked patients from accessing care at Planned Parenthood health centers, allowed health care entities to refuse to provide abortion services even when a woman’s life or health is at risk, and codified the expanded global gag rule — were also rejected in the spending deal.
The legislation continues a number of harmful domestic and global abortion restrictions, including the Hyde Amendment and the Helms Amendment. The Hyde amendment denies coverage of abortion in almost all cases for patients who rely on Medicaid and disproportionately harms women with low incomes and women of color. The Helms Amendment undermines women’s health globally by prohibiting the use of foreign aid funding for abortion “as a method of family planning” and is implemented more broadly as a total ban on funding for abortion globally — even in cases of rape and incest, and when a woman faces a life-endangering pregnancy.
Statement from Dana Singiser, Vice President for Public Policy and Government Affairs, Planned Parenthood Federation of America:
Congressional leaders are finally starting to listen to the people around the country who have been calling on Congress to stop playing politics with women’s health. People have been calling and emailing their members of Congress to make common sense investments in essential reproductive health care programs instead of undercutting people’s health. Riders that include ‘defunding’ Planned Parenthood and so-called refusal clauses are unpopular, restrict people’s access to care, and put women’s lives at risk. There is more work to be done to hold off further attacks from Congress and the Trump-Pence administration. We will not stop fighting until people are able to receive complete, accurate information about their health care and make personal life choices without government interference.
Absent in the spending bill was an effort to protect 800,000 immigrant youth with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) at risk and many more Dreamers who would’ve qualified for DACA and are now at risk of deportation with the termination of program by the administration seven months ago. Many Dreamers and undocumented immigrants walk through the doors of Planned Parenthood every day because our health centers are one of the few places they can go, regardless of status, and feel comfortable seeking the care they need. Instead, this bill included enhanced immigration enforcement spending, adding more fear of families being separated.
“At Planned Parenthood, we will also continue the fight for a Dream Act to provide relief for immigrant youth. Many immigrants continue to live in fear that can prevent them from seeking help or life saving care, including reproductive health care. That is a reality Congress continues with their inaction in this package,” Singiser continued.
In addition to considering the spending bill passed by the House, the Senate is considering a harmful bipartisan market stabilization plan, which goes far beyond current law and imposes new abortion coverage restrictions. The bill includes language that would ultimately end private insurance coverage of abortion.
Earlier this month, Planned Parenthood, along with 90 other advocacy and health care groups, submitted a letter to both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees demanding that the FY 2018 appropriations bill exclude harmful and anti-women’s health policy riders, including those blocking patients from accessing care at Planned Parenthood health centers.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading provider and advocate of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, as well as the nation’s largest provider of sex education. With more than 600 health centers across the country, Planned Parenthood organizations serve all patients with care and compassion, with respect and without judgment. Through health centers, programs in schools and communities, and online resources, Planned Parenthood is a trusted source of reliable health information that allows people to make informed health decisions. We do all this because we care passionately about helping people lead healthier lives.