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Amendment Politicizes Health Care Legislation

WASHINGTON, DC — Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) today roundly criticized Sen. David Vitter’s anti-choice amendment (S.Amdt. 3896) to the Indian Health Services Act (S.1200). Sen. Vitter’s anti-choice amendment would unnecessarily politicize a commonsense health care bill by adding language that would restrict the use of Indian Health Service (IHS) funds from providing women with abortion services. Apart from being bad public health policy, this language is duplicative of current law and serves only to politicize important legislation regarding comprehensive health care for Native Americans.  

“Sen. Vitter’s amendment is simply a political tactic that will do nothing to improve health care for Native Americans, nor reduce the number of unintended pregnancies,” said PPFA President Cecile Richards. “If Sen. Vitter is serious about preventing unintended pregnancies, he would support prevention legislation that invests in family planning programs. Unfortunately, Sen. Vitter’s amendment puts politics over the health and welfare of Native Americans.”

Under current policy, the Hyde Amendment forbids federal funding for abortion in almost all cases. IHS already delivers basic health care services in a manner consistent with the Hyde Amendment. In fact, 25 U.S.C. 1676 subjects IHS funds to restrictions by the Hyde Amendment. Sen. Vitter’s amendment is simply a redundancy of current law and would not change current policy.

In addition, Sen. Vitter’s amendment opens the door to potential unintended consequences. Restrictions on federal funding for abortion-related services should be consistent across federal programs and subject to the same language. As an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services, IHS should be treated in the same manner as other HHS programs, such as Medicaid, which are all subject to the restrictions of the Hyde Amendment. Senator Vitter’s amendment poses potential confusion and duplication of effort if abortion restriction language is amended or changed. 

In short, Senator Vitter’s amendment is a political ploy.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America invites Sen. Vitter and every member who voted for his amendment to cosponsor commonsense legislation that will get to the root of the unintended pregnancy problem; specifically, the Prevention Through Affordable Access Act (S. 2347), which will restore access to affordable birth control, and the REAL (Responsible Education About Life) Act (S. 972), which will improve access to comprehensive sex education that provides teens with the information they need to stay safe and healthy.

In a vote today in the U.S. Senate, Sen. Vitter’s anti-choice amendment passed by a vote of 52-42.


Planned Parenthood Federation of America


Tait Sye, 202-973-4840


May 13, 2014