Congressmember Lois Capps took heated exception to a Republican-backed bill that passed the House Tuesday that would undermine funding for Planned Parenthood. The bill, approved on pretty much a party-line vote, allows states to opt out of making Medicaid payments to Planned Parenthood for a host of reproductive health services the agency offers separate from abortion. “As a mother, as a woman, and as a nurse, this is insulting,” Capps said. She accused her colleagues of “putting their heads in the sand” by effectively voting to defund hundreds of clinics throughout the country, dismissing the presumption that other clinics exist to take up the slack as not just incorrect, but “callous.” She added, “Which provider a woman chooses to go to for her reproductive health care is not your decision to make. Or it shouldn’t be.” Capps voiced her objection both on the House floor and at a press conference.
The vote was one of many actions targeting Planned Parenthood, which receives about $500 million a year in federal assistance for non-abortion-related services. Planned Parenthood officials have argued that in many locales, their clinics are the ones providing such services. They’ve pointed out that in states like Kentucky, Republican officeholders have included dentists in their lists of medical alternatives to Planned Parenthood.
The vote came on the heels of even more heated exchanges between Republican and Democratic members of a House oversight subcommittee then questioning Planned Parenthood’s chief executive, Cecile Richards. With the release of surreptitiously filmed and heavily edited videos over the past two months, Planned Parenthood has been the focus of intense political debate. Last week, House Speaker John Boehner announced his resignation as Speaker and Representative when more conservative members of his own party made it clear they intended to withhold funding for the federal government unless Planned Parenthood was defunded.