Vice President Mike Pence stepped in as the tie-breaking vote in the Senate Thursday to pass a bill that would allow states to deny federal funding to family planning clinics like Planned Parenthood.
The bill is a reversal of former President Barack Obama’s last-ditch effort to protect Planned Parenthood’s funding from conservative governors and state legislatures. It will now head to President Donald Trump’s desk, where it will likely be signed into law.
This isn’t the much talked about “defund Planned Parenthood” bill that Republicans have promised to pass — that legislation has yet to be introduced. Rather, this action gives states the option to deny Title X federal grant money to family planning clinics like Planned Parenthood.
As Emily Crockett wrote for Vox earlier this year, Republican states have long attempted to federally defund Planned Parenthood clinics by denying them Title X grant money — a practice Obama’s executive order attempted to curtail:
Title X funds are competitive grants; they are awarded to the best-qualified health providers that are best suited to meet a community’s specific needs.
Every state awards the grants differently. The grants might go to state and local health departments, hospitals, family planning councils, or nonprofits like Planned Parenthood. Then those grantees choose a network of health care providers to work with and help them provide services.
When Planned Parenthood affiliates and clinics earn Title X grants, it’s because they have proven they can administer better care than other local providers.
But 13 states have decided to “defund” Planned Parenthood by finding creative ways to bar the organization from receiving Title X funds — no matter how much more qualified it is to make use of those funds than other providers in the area.
Now Republicans, with hopes to fully cut out federal funding for Planned Parenthood — and all family planning clinics with abortion services — are one step closer to doing so. But as Crockett notes, this action could have adverse effects on low-income families, who often rely on health clinics like Planned Parenthood for services other than abortions.
- Read Emily Crockett’s comprehensive explainer on the Title X funding fight over Planned Parenthood.
- This is all part of the GOP’s sweeping war on Planned Parenthood nationwide.
- Many Republicans argue that women can just go elsewhere for health services if their local Planned Parenthood clinic shuttered. Vox’s Sarah Kliff investigated the claim.