Oklahoma residents are still recovering from this past week’s devastating tornadoes, which killed over 20 people and likely incurred billions of dollars in damages in Moore and Shawnee. But their elected officials are currently focusing on some other priorities that fall outside of disaster relief. On Wednesday, Oklahoma state senators approved a bill that would strip funding from the state’s Planned Parenthood clinics.
As the Huffington Post reports, Senate Bill 900 doesn’t actually specifically mention the name of the national women’s health organization. But, since the legislation would reallocate the state’s family planning funds to public providers and hospitals, Planned Parenthood — which is a private organization — would effectively lose the funding that used to go toward those services.
The bill passed on Wednesday by a 33 to 8 vote, and now heads to the House. At least one Republican in the House told the Huffington Post that he plans to vote against it. “To defund a program like Planned Parenthood would be a mistake. They perform a valuable service as far as breast cancer screenings, cervical cancer screenings, parenting classes, many things that benefit our state that we’re sorely in need of,” State Rep. Doug Cox (R) explained.
This is hardly the first time that Oklahoma has indirectly attacked Planned Parenthood’s funding. Last year, the state’s Department of Health decided to end its WIC contract with Oklahoma’s Planned Parenthood affiliate — effectively cutting off the state funding that the organization relied on to provide health services to low-income women in the Tulsa area. Planned Parenthood tried to block Oklahoma officials from arbitrarily ending the 18-year contract, but their request was denied by a federal judge. As a result, Planned Parenthood was forced to lay off staff and shut down one of its Tulsa health clinics.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only attack on women’s health that Oklahoma lawmakers have advanced recently. In February, a state senator attempted to push through a bill that would have allowed employers to deny birth control coverage to their workers for any reason. Anti-choice legislators in Oklahoma have also repeatedly pushed “personhood” measures to endow embryos with the full rights of U.S. citizens, which would outlaw all abortions and some forms of birth control.