WASHINGTON — A new bill introduced in the U.S. Senate would re-allocate women’s health care funding away from controversial abortion provider Planned Parenthood, toward health care providers that don’t perform abortions.
Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and James Lankford, R-Okla., are co-sponsors of the bill, called the Protect Funding for Women’s Health Care Act.
“We as a pro-life community honor the civil liberties, independence and strength of a woman — all women,” Ernst said at the March for Life Jan. 27. “And that means both supporting mothers and rising up to protect the most vulnerable in our society: the innocent babies who are unable to defend themselves.”
The bill would fund women’s health services, including diagnostic laboratory and radiology services, prenatal and postnatal care, immunizations and cervical and breast cancer screenings, Lankford’s office said.
“For years, our nation has debated life and abortion — at a minimum we should agree that no taxpayer should be forced to fund the largest provider of abortion in the country with their hard-earned tax dollars,” Lankford said Jan. 30.
“Planned Parenthood receives millions in private donation money every year, and they’ve experienced an increase in donations since President Trump was elected. There is no reason for a private non-governmental organization, like Planned Parenthood, to receive $500 million a year in taxpayer money.”
The bill’s supporters say it would ensure that there is no reduction in federal funding for women’s health.
Lankford’s office said he had introduced a similar bill with Ernst and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., in 2015, after investigative reports showed Planned Parenthood officials apparently engaged in the illegal procurement for sale of human body parts from abortion.
While federal law bars funding for most abortions, Planned Parenthood receives money through other federal programs. Critics argue that this money is fungible, freeing up other funds to be used on abortion.
Ernst and U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tenn., are backing a separate bill to end a federal rule that prevents states from withholding Title X family planning funds from Planned Parenthood and other organizations that perform abortions. The rule helped stymie efforts to defund the United States’ largest abortion provider following reports of its illegal body-parts sales.