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Effort to defund Planned Parenthood fails

WASHINGTON (BP)–The House of Representatives defeated an effort July 24 to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving funds under the federal government’s family planning program.

Representatives voted 247-183 against an amendment that would have barred Title X money for the country’s largest abortion provider. Rep. Mike Pence, R.-Ind., sought to attach the amendment to a spending bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education.

Affiliates of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) performed more than 305,000 abortions in 2007, the most recent year for which statistics are available.

Planned Parenthood, the largest recipient of Title X funds, received more than $349 million in government grants and contracts during the financial year of July 2007 to June 2008. The organization’s total revenue was $1.04 billion during that time period.

Before the vote on his amendment, Pence said on the House floor, “The largest abortion provider in America should not also be the largest recipient of federal funding under Title X, as I believe a majority of the American people would attest. The time has come to deny all federal funding to Planned Parenthood of America.”

His amendment would not eliminate any funds for Title X, Pence told the House. He also contended Title X funds aid Planned Parenthood’s abortion promotion and practice.

“I understand that current law and regulation [prevent] Title X funds from going directly to fund abortions,” he said. “… But there’s no question that money that Planned Parenthood receives for its operational expenses from the federal government free[s] up resources that can be used to provide and promote abortions through its abortion clinics. Common sense teaches no other idea.”

Richard Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, wrote Pence July 21 to express the entity’s “strong support” for his amendment.

“[D]enial of federal funding for Planned Parenthood is more than simply prudent policy to help reduce the number of abortions,” Land wrote. “It is a moral imperative. It is unconscionable for Congress to direct even a single dollar of taxpayer money to [Planned Parenthood], given that the organization specializes in a practice that violates the core convictions of millions of Americans. No person should be forced at the behest of the government’s special interests to compromise his or her conscience on matters of protecting life.”

On the July 24 roll call, 20 Democrats voted with 163 Republicans in support of Pence’s amendment. Nine Republicans joined 238 Democrats in opposition. (Click here for a detailed breakdown of the vote total.)

The House later provided final passage of the spending bill in a 264-153 roll call.

Pence attempted to prohibit Planned Parenthood from receiving Title X funding in July 2007, but the House defeated his amendment in a 231-189 roll call.

Pence also is sponsoring a stand-alone bill, the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act, H.R. 614, which would bar Title X funds from going not only to Planned Parenthood but to any organization that performs abortions. That bill, which was introduced in January, has 89 cosponsors.

Planned Parenthood has been the target of an undercover investigation during the last year that has shown staff members circumventing the law. Employees at seven Planned Parenthood affiliates in five states -– Alabama, Arizona, California, Indiana and Tennessee — have been caught on video during the last year seeking to cover up alleged child sexual abuse. Lila Rose, a UCLA student, has led the hidden-camera operation by posing as a minor with an adult boyfriend by whom she is pregnant.

In a different undercover investigation by Live Action, the organization Rose leads, Planned Parenthood workers in seven states were caught on audio tape agreeing to receive donations designated for abortions of African-American babies.
Compiled by Tom Strode, Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.

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