Senate GOP needs Pence to break tie on family planning funds

Andrew Burton  Getty Images News  Getty Images

Senators Thursday were deadlocked, 50-50, with two Republicans - Sens.

Pence made the tiebreaker defund-family-planning-article-1.3013900" target="_blank">vote on Thursday after two Republican Senators had joined all Senate Democrats in opposing a motion to end debate on the bill.

"The Obama rule tried to force states.to send taxpayer money to abortion providers like Planned Parenthood instead of community health centers and other qualified health providers", Black said.

Some states have passed laws in recent years denying the funds to groups that provide abortions.

The congresswoman, who introduced the legislation in late January, said the measure will protect states' rights. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska were the only Republicans to vote against the bill.

"It would let states treat women as second-class citizens who don't deserve the same access to health care as men", he said.

Vice President Mike Pence seems bound and determined to limit women's ability to have an abortion, even if it comes at the cost of revoking funding for family planning services and women's preventive health services.

Under long-standing practice, no federal funds can be used for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or a threat to the mother.

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The regulation issued in the final days of the Obama administration said that states were not allowed to withhold the funding unless the provider failed to meet standard health care criteria.

Low-income Americans could suffer the most from these restrictions, since almost 90% of all people who seek out Planned Parenthood's Title X services have incomes below 200% of the federal poverty standard. The four US representatives from Arkansas, all Republicans, had all voted in February to reject the Department of Health and Human Services rule. President Trump is expected to sign the Title X measure, though his administration is yet to release a statement of intent on it.

Under the Constitution, the vice president casts a congressional vote when there's a tie.

Noting the recent collapse of the Republican healthcare bill in the U.S. House of Representatives, Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said Thursday's votes were close because "people are sick and exhausted of politicians making it even harder for them to access healthcare".

While serving in Congress, Pence was a leader in efforts to defund Planned Parenthood.

Democrats argued that allowing states to block funds for Planned Parenthood would hurt women who use the organization as a health care provider for things other than abortions.

The Title X grant of the Public Health Service Act is the only federal program focused exclusively on providing family planning.

The bill shields Planned Parenthood with $2 million from the State's Medicaid budget, and another $700,000 from the general fund should Republicans in Congress succeed in cutting off federal funds.

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