House passes bill to defund Planned Parenthood

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house votes to defund planned parenthood

President Obama has promised to veto the bill.

The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday approved a bill that would freeze federal funding for Planned Parenthood for one year.

The vote on the Defund Planned Parenthood Act was 241-187, divided almost entirely along party lines. Only two anti-abortion Democrats supported it and only three Republicans opposed it.

The bill follows weeks of controversy over Planned Parenthood’s legal practice of donating fetal tissue for biomedical research. Anti-abortion activists have published 10 so-called “sting” videos this year that they say depict Planned Parenthood executives acknowledging the sale of fetal tissue for profit.

Planned Parenthood is permitted under the law to be reimbursed by labs for the costs associated with storing and transporting medical specimens. 

“What we’ve learned about Planned Parenthood is appalling, barbaric and indefensible,” Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.) said Friday.

A second bill, which passed the House 248-177, would impose criminal penalties on doctors who do not attempt to save infants born alive during abortions.

Neither bill is expected to become law, as Senate Democrats currently have enough votes to block them and President Barack Obama has promised to veto any bill defunding Planned Parenthood.

“It’s no wonder that solid majorities of the public disapprove of the job Congress is doing and overwhelmingly support Planned Parenthood,” Eric Ferrero, a Planned Parenthood spokesperson, said in statement to the Daily Dot.

Ferrero called the bills “a callous attempt to insert politics into women’s health,” adding that millions of women in the U.S. rely on Planned Parenthood for birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, and other critical preventive care.

“Nothing that politicians in Congress did today will change the fact that our doors remain open to everyone, in every part of this country, who needs high-quality, compassionate reproductive health care,” Ferrero said.

The videos that purport to show Planned Parenthood officials breaking the law come from an anti-abortion group called the Center for Medical Progress. They sparked renewed anti-abortion sentiment on Capitol Hill and throughout the country, despite numerous reports that the footage was “blatantly manipulated” and contains multiple intentional edits to alter the meaning of conversations and events.

Former HP CEO Carly Fiorina, who is running for the Republican presidential nomination, took aim at Planned Parenthood during Wednesday night’s presidential debate, citing what she said was a scene from the videos. But the video that she appeared to reference contains images of a baby—stillborn, not aborted—that were not recorded at a Planned Parenthood facility. 

Despite the fact that the video’s creator has acknowledged its origin, Fiorina insisted that the images were of a fetus that survived an abortion procedure.

Planned Parenthood told the Daily Dot that Fiorina, who has continued to defend her inaccurate statements in the press, was clearly intentionally lying.

“Contrary to what many Americans have been led to believe, the bill before us is not about abortion,” Rep. Elizabeth Esty (D-Conn.) said during debate on the House floor. “This bill would, however, restrict women’s access to health care all across this country by entirely eliminating all federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

“We need more access to quality health care, not less,” said Esty, who volunteered at Planned Parenthood as a college freshman. “We need to stop trying to restrict access to lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, and well-woman exams. We need to stop refighting 40-year old battles on women’s rights.”

Illustration by Fernando Alfonso III

Dell Cameron

Dell Cameron

Dell Cameron was a reporter at the Daily Dot who covered security and politics. In 2015, he revealed the existence of an American hacker on the U.S. government's terrorist watchlist. He is a co-author of the Sabu Files, an award-nominated investigation into the FBI's use of cyber-informants. He became a staff writer at Gizmodo in 2017.