Mike Pence breaks tie as Senate passes anti-Planned Parenthood bill

Andrew Burton  Getty Images News  Getty Images
Andrew Burton Getty Images News Getty Images
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03 April, 2017

Vice President Mike Pence cast a rare tie-breaking vote in the U.S. Senate Thursday to allow states to block certain federal funding from going to Planned Parenthood clinics and other abortion providers.

The Obama administration moved to block the states, issuing its rule a year ago preventing abortion providers from being singled out.

"Republicans didn't listen to us", said Senator Patty Murray of Washington.

Two Republican senators - Alaska's Lisa Murkowski and Maine's Susan Collins - joined Democrats in opposing the measure. In 21 percent of counties where the organization sees patients, Planned Parenthood health centers are the one and only safety-net family planning provider. Some states like Texas have already passed laws to defund Planned Parenthood, so those rulings will remain intact and make it impossible for women to get affordable healthcare services there.

"It is unprecedented that we are here with the Vice President breaking a tie vote on an attack on woman's health across this country", said Sen. But Democrats and other defenders of Planned Parenthood have always gotten around that by allocating funds for other so-called family planning services, and allowing beneficiaries of the funding to choose Planned Parenthood as the provider of the service.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence speaks at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference in Washington, U.S., March 26, 2017.

In the background section, the proposed rule did note that with this interpretation of Title X, abortion is not expected to be part of the mandated taxpayer funding.

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Almost 88,000 individuals in Washington receive services from Planned Parenthood under Medicaid funding, according to the group.

Republicans, who hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate, needed only a simple majority vote to advance the bill.

Just last night, Pence, who has been a particularly ardent and vicious opponent of Planned Parenthood, spoke at a White House panel on empowering women to commemorate the close of women's history month.

Thursday's vote was Pence's second tiebreaker of his young term. Oftentimes, Title X grants help low-income or uninsured women who would otherwise not be able to receive healthcare or family planning options such as birth control. That bill was pulled before being allowed to come to a vote on the House floor.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer warned Republicans against repealing the rule, thereby limiting women's access to care in some areas.

"This legislation does not prevent Planned Parenthood or any other entity from receiving Title X funds", Ernst said immediately after the vote.


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