With the government mere hours away from shutdown, the budget debate has centered around policy riders that GOP lawmakers insist must be included in any funding bill. The most controversial of those riders involves funding for Planned Parenthood, an organization that runs 800 community health centers across the nation.
Congressional Republicans are seeking to defund the organization because it provides abortions, although it exclusively uses private funds — not taxpayer dollars — to do so, as required by law. Several lawmakers have even highlighted their willingness to shut down the government if Democrats do not agree to defund Planned Parenthood.
This morning, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) took to the Senate floor and insisted that any bill must cut Planned Parenthood’s funding. In the process, he made a blatantly false claim about the type of services the organization provides:
KYL: Everybody goes to clinics, to doctors, to hospitals, so on. Some people go to Planned Parenthood. But you don’t have to go to Planned Parenthood to get your cholesterol or your blood pressure checked. If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that’s well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.
In fact, the exact opposite is true. According to Planned Parenthood officials, more than 90 percent of the health care services provided by the organization is preventive in nature. Each year, it provides more than one million cervical cancer screenings, 830,000 breast exams, and nearly four million exams, treatments, and tests involving sexually transmitted diseases. The federal funding received by the organization goes strictly toward these basic needs and others, such as birth control and annual exams. In fact, just three percent of its work is related to abortion.
Though some Republicans have attempted to move past the Planned Parenthood issue in order to reach a budget agreement, false information like that which Kyl is propagating has kept the debate from moving forward and made a budget deal almost impossible. If no deal is reached, Kyl and his Republican colleagues will be left defending their absurd decision to shutdown the government over a community health organization.