Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana, introduced the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, H.R. 217, as a means of stripping federal funding from Planned Parenthood and any other organization that performs abortions.
“If Planned Parenthood wants to be involved in providing counseling services and HIV testing, they ought not to be in the business of providing abortions,” Pence told Politico on Wednesday. “As long as they aspire to do that, I’ll be after them.”
According to www.opencongress.org, the act, which has 165 co-signers, would amend the Public Health Service Act to prohibit the secretary of Health and Human Service (HHS) from providing any federal family planning assistance to an entity unless the entity certifies that, during the period of such assistance, the entity will not perform, and will not provide any funds to any other entity that performs, an abortion.
Exempt from the act would be abortions where the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or an act of incest against a minor; or a physician certifies that the woman suffered from a physical disorder, injury, or illness that would place the woman in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, including a condition caused by or arising from the pregnancy. Hospitals would be excluded from such requirement so long as the hospital does not provide funds to any non-hospital entity that performs an abortion.
Alison Gaulden, vice president of Nevada public affairs for Planned Parenthood, is calling the bill “an unprecedented attack on women’s health.” She said 50,000 Nevadans would be affected if Planned Parenthood is defunded. Uninsured patients who visit the clinics and pay on a sliding fee scale would be affected the most, she said.
She said she believes many supporters of the bill have never stepped foot in a Planned Parenthood clinic, particularly the Reno clinics, where a plethora of health services sans abortions are provided at an affordable rate.
“We had protesters here on Monday,” she said. “There’s definitely a misconception about Planned Parenthood.”
Abortions are performed at many Planned Parenthood clinics across the nation, but so far no doctors in Reno have signed on with Planned Parenthood to provide the service.
The sometimes violent opposition to abortion providers has caused many local pro-choice doctors to shy away, Gaulden said. Other doctors who are willing to perform abortions are unable to because of their affiliation with medical entities that will not allow it.
“It’s the zealots that will harass the medical community,” Gaulden said, that are causing such a problem.
“The violence rhetoric isn’t new to Planned Parenthood,” she said. “Planned Parenthood has been in the crosshairs for years. Nine doctors have died, even as recently as 2009.”
Women cannot get an abortion at Reno’s Neil Road or Fifth Street Planned Parenthood facilities, Gaulden said, but services offered to men, women and teenagers include annual check-ups, screening for breast and cervical cancer, pregnancy testing, HIV testing and counseling, sexually transmitted disease (STD) testing and treatment and emergency contraception.
Patty Elzy, Planned Parenthood director of legislative affairs, said services offered also include educational services, lab work, diagnoses and medications.
“This is a one-stop shop,” Elzy said.
While Planned Parenthood does provide services to minors without parental consent, the patients are encouraged to involve their families, Elzy added.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest recipient of Title X funding, Gaulden said.
“It’s America’s fund for planned parenting,” Gaulden said. “Republican Richard Nixon put it in place.”
The problem, Gaulden said, is H.R. 217 advocates are failing to realize how many vital services Planned Parenthood offers in addition to abortions.
“(The bill) is an attack on an organization that dedicates itself to women’s health,” she said.
Gaulden said she encourages anyone who is pro-choice to contact their representative and let their opinion be heard.
“Call your congressman and say you specifically support Planned Parenthood,” she said. “It’s very important for pro-choice Republicans to call. … I can’t do it by myself.”