Planned Parenthood sees brief reprieve
after healthcare bill yanked
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[March 25, 2017]
By Jonathan Allen and Jilian Mincer
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Planned Parenthood,
the national health organization that would have lost federal funding
under sweeping healthcare overhaul legislation, views the withdrawal of
the bill on Friday as a temporary reprieve, not the end of a threat to
Officials of the organization - long a target of those who oppose its
abortion services - anticipate further attempts by Republicans to curb
its participation in federally funded public health programs, a major
source of its funding.
In a major setback for Republican President Donald Trump, U.S. House of
Representatives leaders pulled the healthcare bill after a rebellion by
Republican moderates and the party's most conservative lawmakers left
them short of votes. Democrats were unified against it.
Planned Parenthood leaders will meet in Washington next week to plan
their strategy for coming rounds in what they see as a protracted fight.
"It's one good night's sleep, and then we have to see what they are
going to cook up," Chris Charbonneau, chief executive of Planned
Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands, said in a
phone interview. "They're trying to find some vehicle that they could
hook some Planned Parenthood defund(ing) to."
Many Republicans oppose the organization, some on religious grounds,
because its healthcare services include abortions, although it receives
no federal funding or reimbursement for abortions, as stipulated by
The federal funding it receives is primarily through reimbursement via
Medicaid and the Title X Family Planning grant program for its care for
Abortion opponents said Republican leaders had promised for years to end
federal reimbursement for Planned Parenthood, and that voters would
continue to hold them to this. Before winning the presidential election
in November, Trump had also promised to defund Planned Parenthood, and
fought to get the healthcare bill passed.
"I'm confident the Republicans in Congress and the president will move
ahead and defund Planned Parenthood," said Joe Pojman, executive
director of the anti-abortion Texas Alliance for Life.
The issue "is so dear to the electorate who put the Republicans and
president in office," he said after the bill was pulled.
On the other side of the issue, Georges Benjamin, the American Public
Health Association's executive director, welcomed the withdrawal of the
legislation, and said the renewed public attention on Planned Parenthood
may make future efforts to limit its funding more difficult.
"I think in many ways it's going to be harder for them to go after
Planned Parenthood, not that they won't," he said in a telephone
"I hope people recognize that Planned Parenthood did more than
abortions, that they recognize it has a broader portfolio," he said,
referring to services such as cancer screenings provided by the
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Planned Parenthood South
Austin Health Center is seen in Austin, Texas, U.S. on June 27,
2016. REUTERS/Ilana Panich-Linsman/File Photo
The proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA) would have repealed
many parts of the Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare,
which Democratic President Barack Obama signed into law in 2010.
Charbonneau and other Planned Parenthood officials pointed to a
widespread outpouring of public opposition to AHCA as one of the
reasons that its moderate Republican backers could not reach a
compromise with members of the conservative Freedom Caucus, who
demanded a complete evisceration of Obamacare.
"The irony is that the Freedom Caucus, which is very pro-life and
against Planned Parenthood, allows P.P. to continue if they stop
this plan!" Trump wrote in a message on Twitter on Friday
morning.Public opinion polls found the AHCA bill was unpopular among
Americans, including Republican voters, and that there was broad
public support for funding some of Planned Parenthood's work. In a
Reuters-Ipsos poll conducted last month, almost half of 5,459
American adults surveyed said Planned Parenthood should receive
federal funding; about a third said they should not.
Even so, about 70 percent of those people said Planned Parenthood
should get the money when they were asked about specific services
such as free cancer screenings, contraception and prenatal care.
Women were significantly more likely than men to think the
organization deserved funding.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America had described the
Republicans' proposed law as containing a "long list of anti-women's
health provisions" in a statement earlier this week. The
federation's president, Cecile Richards, cheered its withdrawal on
The organization said that 2.5 million men, women and children rely
on Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings, medical testing,
contraception, abortions and other healthcare services each year at
around 700 health centers around the country.
The warnings were echoed by two dozen national public health
organizations, including the American Public Health Association, the
American Nurses Association and the American College of
Nurse-Midwives, in a letter to U.S. lawmakers in February. They
argued that in some parts of the country, particularly rural areas,
Planned Parenthood was the only nearby provider of health services.
(Reporting by Jonathan Allen and Jilian Mincer in New York;
Additional reporting Letitia Stein in Tampa; Editing by Jonathan
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