October 1, 2015

Pearce wants it to be easier for states to cut off Planned Parenthood funding

The House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill that would make it easier for states to deny funding to Planned Parenthood through federal Medicaid dollars.

Steve Pearce

Congressman Steve Pearce of New Mexico was among the more than 200 members of the House who voted in favor of the Women’s Public Health and Safety Act earlier this week. The bill would allow individual states to decide whether organizations like Planned Parenthood can receive Medicaid funding.

New Mexico’s other two members of the House, both Democrats, voted against the legislation.

The bill has very little chance of clearing the Senate and, even then, would face a veto from President Barack Obama.

In a press release, Pearce praised the bill and said Americans have called on Congress to defund Planned Parenthood after undercover videos with officials from the group were released earlier this year. He said the bill would allow New Mexicans decide where Medicaid money would go.

“By allowing states to have maximum flexibility in their Medicaid programs, we can ensure that New Mexicans have a voice in how and where their taxpayer dollars are spent,” Pearce said.

According to the press release from Pearce’s office, the number of “federally qualified health clinics that provide genuine care to New Mexican families all across the state” far outnumber New Mexico’s Planned Parenthood facilities.

This has been a popular talking point, but many facilities do not provide reproductive health care.

A spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood said in a statement that the organization provides many services for women both in New Mexico and across the rest of the U.S.

“More than half of our health centers are in rural or medically-underserved areas, meaning that without Planned Parenthood, many patients would literally have nowhere else to turn,”  ‎Senior Director of Strategic Communications & Marketing at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Marta Welch wrote in an email to New Mexico Political Report. “These extreme politicians in Congress are trying to attack women’s health by blocking Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funds — a move that would leave millions of patients across the country, many in New Mexico, devastated by stripping them of the basic reproductive health care they rely on.”

Conservatives and Republicans have been seeking to stop Planned Parenthood from getting federal money throughout the summer after a series of undercover videos, which were heavily edited, painted the organization in a bad light on abortion.

The federal Hyde amendment, which was passed nearly 40 years ago, already stops any federal money from going to abortions

“Defunding Planned Parenthood at the federal level, or in an individual state, as H.R. 3495 authorizes, would benefit New Mexican women and families by providing greater funding to these other, more accessible clinics,” Pearce’s press release reads.

The bill itself does not mention Planned Parenthood, but the bill’s sponsor referenced the group multiple times during a debate on Tuesday.

The bill’s sponsor, U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy, R-Wis., spoke to members of the House on Tuesday and argued that each state should be able to decide whether Planned Parenthood gets funding through Medicaid.

“Why don’t we let the states make that decisions for themselves?” Duffy asked.

Duffy also echoed the sentiment of Pearce and others in favor of defunding Planned Parenthood and argued that there are other options for women’s health care besides Planned Parenthood.

“Health care doesn’t mean Planned Parenthood and Planned Parenthood doesn’t mean women’s health care,” Duffy said.

Later, the House and Senate each passed legislation to fund the federal government, without provisions related to Planned Parenthood.