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US House votes to delay Planned Parenthood funding for a year

An opponent of Planned Parenthood demonstrates in front of a new facility in Houston in January (CNS)

The US House of Representatives voted on Friday to block federal funding for a year to affiliates of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and redirect the money to community health centres.

The provision is part of a reconciliation bill that voids some major provisions of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Law. Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act passed in a 240-189 vote along party lines.

“Planned Parenthood now commands about one-third of the total abortion ‘market’,” said Carol Tobias, National Right to Life president. “For far too long, federal taxpayer dollars have been funnelled to the nation’s abortion giant, and it’s time for that to stop. We applaud passage of the reconciliation bill and we urge the US Senate to act quickly.”

The Senate cannot block the bill with a filibuster, but even if it were to pass, it will face a guaranteed veto by President Barack Obama.

According to its most recent annual report, Planned Parenthood received at least $528 million annually from the federal government and state governments.

The House vote “is an important step forward in ending the massive, unnecessary and immoral funding of Planned Parenthood,” said Fr Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life. “We in the pro-life movement have to continue to work this process with patience, perseverance and political wisdom, as long as it takes, to defund Planned Parenthood.”

The House has created a new panel to investigate Planned Parenthood, naming Rep Marsha Blackburn, R-Tennessee, as chairwoman and appointed seven other Republican lawmakers to the committee. House Democrats have named no participants.

Calls for defunding Planned Parenthood and investigating the organisation followed the release of several videos, taped undercover, that show physicians and others associated with Planned Parenthood describing the harvesting of fetal tissue and body parts during abortions at their clinics.

Also discussed in the videos are what researchers are charged for the tissue and parts.

On October 13, Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, announced the organisation’s clinics will no longer accept reimbursement for foetal tissue procured in abortions and provided to researchers. She said the decision was made “to completely debunk” the series of videos, which were by the Centre for Medical Progress.

In Texas, officials moved to cut Planned Parenthood from Medicaid programs entirely, following three separate investigations by the state Health and Human Services Commission. Gov Greg Abbott, Attorney General Ken Paxton and Lt Gov Dan Patrick had each asked for an investigation.

“Earlier this year, you committed and condoned numerous acts of misconduct captured on video that reveal repeated program violations and breach the minimum standards of care required of a Medicaid enrollee,” the state health commission said in a letter to state Planned Parenthood officials.

In Louisiana, Gov Bobby Jindal ordered such funding be blocked there but a federal judge in mid-October stopped his order from taking effect and ruled the state had to continue Planned Parenthood funding until he could rule on the case.