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Vice President Pence Took the Tie-Breaking Cloture Vote

WASHINGTON, DC — After the Senate deadlocked 49-49, Vice President Mike Pence stepped in to break the tie to move forward the confirmation vote on Gov. Sam Brownback’s nomination to serve as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom at the State Department. The ambassadorship sits within the State Department's bureau focused on human rights, and focuses on promoting religious freedom and calling out cases of religious persecution around the world. This vote follows a number of decisions by the Trump-Pence administration that seek to undermine access to sexual and reproductive health both globally and domestically. After only one year in office, Vice President Pence’s tie-breaking vote was the sixth such vote to advance extreme policy or nominees. 

Last week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued rules to open a new office and released a far-reaching proposed rule that would allow health care workers to block access to care for women and LGBTQ people; affect numerous health care programs across the federal government; and expand the reach of federal refusal laws to potentially allow any institution, health care provider, or worker in a health care facility. This means that patients could be denied access to basic health care and information based on their providers’ personal beliefs. 

Statement from Dana Singiser, Vice President of Public Policy and Government Relations, Planned Parenthood Federation of America: 

“Planned Parenthood is gravely concerned that Gov. Brownback is not up to the important mission of the Office of International Religious Freedom. Instead he would double down on the ideological, anti-women and anti-LGBTQ agenda of the Trump-Pence administration. Brownback’s confirmation would subvert the mission of the Office of International Religious Freedom, and it’s part of this administration’s continued track record of installing ideologues in important posts at the expense of women, LGBTQ people, and other marginalized communities. Brownback’s actions as a governor and senator are the type of ideologically driven overreaches on human rights that the ambassadorship is intended to target and condemn.”

Statement from Aaron Samulcek, Interim President and CEO, Planned Parenthood Great Plains:

“During Gov. Brownback’s time in office, he has attacked women's access to safe, legal abortion to distract from his failed leadership. His legacy of financially crippling the state, eliminating critical protections for LGBTQ public employees, and vetoing a bipartisan measure to expand Medicaid is shameful.  From the moment he stepped into office, Gov. Brownback placed his political gain ahead of the health and well-being of Kansans. That is not a track record any reasonable American would want to represent our country on the global stage.” 

Gov. Brownback has a long and extreme record of imposing his religious beliefs about women’s health and LGBTQ rights in his roles as a senator and as governor of Kansas. During his time as governor of Kansas and in the U.S. Senate, Brownback has cited religion to undermine the human rights of women, men, and young people in his home state. Brownback has approved multiple “defunding” provisions targeting Planned Parenthood: he opposes abortion access even in the case of rape and incest; promotes failed abstinence-only programs; defines life as beginning at fertilization, thereby limiting access to important and lifesaving forms of contraception; and has voted repeatedly for the harmful global gag rule and against UNFPA’s lifesaving work.

Brownback also has a disturbing record on LGBTQ rights, which includes changing policy in Kansas to make it almost impossible for transgender Kansans to change their birth certificates to reflect their gender identity; removing Kansas state employee nondiscrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity; and conflating "religious freedom" with a license to discriminate, signing an executive order that gave a blank check to religious organizations to refuse services to same-sex couples.

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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.

For more than 45 years, Planned Parenthood Federation of America has supported access to sexual and reproductive health care and advocated for reproductive rights around the world through our international arm, Planned Parenthood Global. In partnership with more than 100 organizations across 12 focus countries in Africa and Latin America, we advance the health and rights of young people, women and families, with an emphasis on the most vulnerable and underserved. Last year, our partners reached over a million people with sexual and reproductive health information and services provided by our partners. Our unique sustainability model sets us apart, as we empower partners to stand on their own. We help grassroots organizations develop solid reproductive health programs, identify other sources of funding, build their communications and advocacy skills, and develop strategic plans.

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