As the fight over funding the federal government heats up in Congress, one sticking point is sure to be Title X money for Planned Parenthood, which House Republicans voted to eliminate earlier this month. In the Senate, Republicans Scott Brown (MA) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) have broken with their party in support of continued funding for Planned Parenthood, noting it is one of the nation’s largest and most effective providers of womens’ health services.
In an interview this weekend with the Anchorage Daily News, Murkowski A letter sent to Vice President Biden recently signed by 20 Democratic senators explained the stakes :
“More fundamentally, without the care Planned Parenthood provides — without access to Pap smears, pelvic exams and breast exams — women will die,” the senators said.
Indeed, one in five women in the U.S. have used one of Planned Parenthood’s 800 health centers, where the organization provides nearly one million Pap tests and more than 830,000 breast exams each year. The organization also administers nearly four million STD tests every year, including those for HIV. Just three percent of the organization’s work is related to abortions.
Meanwhile, The Hill reports that a number of moderate Republicans are signaling willingness to re-instate funds to Planned Parenthood. Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) called “the outright elimination” of funding “a step too far,” while a spokesperson for her colleague Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) called the House vote “unwise.” Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) said he “has always supported Planned Parenthood and family planning efforts.”
The three senators didn’t say how they would vote on a measure to defund Planned Parenthood, and Brown and Murkowski have both voted for the House-passed full-year government funding bill that contained a provision eliminating funds for the organization. As CAP’s Matt Yglesias wrote of Brown’s statement in support of the group, “If he’s voting to defund Planned Parenthood, then all the statements in the world don’t mean a thing.”