Planned Parenthood, Pro-Life Susan B. Anthony List, Duke it Out Over Fitzpatrick & Meehan
By Christina Gongaware, Contributing Writer and Keegan Gibson, Managing Editor
Who’d have thought funding for Planned Parenthood could be so contentious?
An air war has begun over the votes of Mike Fitzpatrick (R-Bucks) and Pat Meehan (R-Delaware) to cut their federal funding. Planned Parenthood fired the opening shots with radio ads over the past week. Now, the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List is returning fire.
Proponents of the Pence Amendment, the vote in question, say that its passage is a strong message that Americans do not support federally-funded abortions. Planned Parenthood and its advocates portray the move as a “war on women” as preventative health services, not abortion, will mainly be at risk.
“This vote was against family planning. Over 90 percent of what we do is family planning,” said Maggie Groff, Vice President of External Affairs for Planned Parenthood of Southeastern PA. “Abortion politics aside, Americans are very supportive of family planning services, and they’re also supportive of federally funded family planning services.”
Groff sees the support of Pennsylvania self-proclaimed “pro-life” Democrats as proof of the funding’s importance. “There are a lot of Democrats who would call themselves ‘pro-life’,” she said. “Yet they recognize that this is about prevention and family planning. This is something to prevent abortions more than anything.”
Planned Parenthood’s ads focus entirely on reproductive health care, rather than abortion. One of the ads, entitled “Flush,” focuses on the dangers of enacting the Pence Amendment.
“Meehan and Fitzpatrick’s vote doesn’t create a single job, doesn’t reduce the deficit, and doesn’t save you a penny,” the ad declares. “Meehan and Fitzpatrick’s vote is sure to increase the number of unintended pregnancies and undetected cancers. In the long run, that’s going to cost all of us plenty.”
The other, entitled “True Story,” details one woman’s story of how Planned Parenthood diagnosed her with cervical cancer, thereby saving her life.
A woman’s voice says, “I was in college. I was 19, and I didn’t have insurance, so I went to Planned Parenthood. I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. I was treated… I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for Planned Parenthood’s early detection. And now my children go to Planned Parenthood.”
For pro-life activists, perhaps no positive benefit provided by Planned Parenthood could outweigh the perceived negative of providing abortion services.
“It is undeniable that Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortion; poll after poll has consistently demonstrated that the overwhelming majority of Americans do not want their tax dollars used to pay for abortion; therefore Planned Parenthood should not be entitled to the hard-earned dollars of American taxpayers,” said Legislative Director Charlene Bashore of the Pennsylvania Pro-Life Federation.
That’s Rep. Meehan’s thinking, too.
“By voting for this amendment I stood with millions of Americans who believe their tax dollars should not be used to subsidize the largest abortion provider in America,” Meehan told PoliticsPA in a statement. “Despite the advertisements from Planned Parenthood I do support women’s health and will continue to do so. While in Congress I have cosponsored a number of programs related to women’s health such as the early detection of breast and cervical cancer and services to pregnant and parenting students.”
“Americans reject the idea that they would be forced into an alliance with sex traffickers and those who put the needs of women and young girls last,” wrote Susan B. Anthony List President Marjorie Dannenfelser in a release. “This campaign is a reminder of what this last election was all about.”
PoliticsPA is waiting a copy of the ad from the SBA List, but their press release on the subject is here.
Interestingly, Charlie Dent (R-Lehigh) was among seven Republicans in the country who voted against the amendment and the only one from PA. All of Pennsylvania’s Democratic representatives voted to preserve the funding.
Kim Custer, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Northeast and Mid-Pennsylvania (which includes the 15th district), praised Dent’s vote. She said, “Rep. Charlie Dent did the right thing by voting against the Pence Bill. Always an advocate for preventative healthcare, Rep. Dent clearly values a woman’s access to the vital services Planned Parenthood provides such as cervical cancer screening, STD testing and contraception.”
The Pence Amendment will now head to the Democrat-controlled Senate, where it is not