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Rand Paul proposes Planned Parenthood ‘poison pill’ to Senate funding bill

Just the latest assault against the reproductive health provider.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks during a Federal Spending Oversight And Emergency Management Subcommittee hearing June 6, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Credit: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) speaks during a Federal Spending Oversight And Emergency Management Subcommittee hearing June 6, 2018 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Credit: Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty Images)

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) is continuing his years-long crusade against Planned Parenthood, filing an amendment to a massive Senate appropriations bill last week that would cut federal funding from the organization, as well as others that perform abortion procedures.

In a statement released Friday, Paul said his amendment to the Senate appropriations package for Defense, Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education is “our chance to turn our words into action, stand up for the sanctity of life, and speak out for the most innocent among us that have no voice.”

The amendment would bar any clinics that perform abortions — except in cases where pregnancy was the result of rape or incest, or if the abortion-seeker’s life is in danger due to the pregnancy — from receiving federal funds.

This isn’t Paul’s first attempt to defund Planned Parenthood. He introduced a similar proposal in 2015 and has been consistently outspoken about the organization, which primarily provides reproductive health services to low-income ^individuals. The majority of patients who seek Planned Parenthood’s services do so for STI testing and treatment. According to the organization, abortion accounts for only 3 percent of the services offered.

Planned Parenthood received a total of $543.7 million in federal funding in the 2016-2017 fiscal year, money which comes from Medicaid and Title X, the family planning grant program primarily aimed at low-income Americans. But what few anti-choice lawmakers seem to understand is that, because of the 1977 Hyde Amendment, none of that funding can be spent on abortion services, except in the cases of rape or incest or to protect the life of the pregnant individual.

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Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers are facing attacks on all fronts since President Donald Trump took office. Trump’s recent nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh for the Supreme Court will likely provide for the fifth vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. Furthermore, the Trump administration has taken various steps to derail Title X grant funding for abortion providers, including prioritizing religious, pro-abstinence organizations for federal funding.

The appropriations bill is currently being considered on the Senate floor. But the chances of Paul’s amendment passing are slim, as Senate leadership have warned against attaching “poison pill” provisions to the legislation.

“What we are trying to do is move our bills, and that could be a spoiler,” Senate Appropriations Committee chairman Richard Shelby (R-AL) said on Monday. Shelby would not rule out the possibility of a later vote on the amendment.