Tag Archive: Planned Parenthood


Restrictive Abortion Law in Kansas

Kansas is set to enact one of the most restrictive and sweeping anti-abortion laws in the country. The Kansas bill states that life begins at fertilization and imposes a number of new abortion regulations. Specifically, the bill prohibits employees of abortion clinics such as Planned Parenthood from providing sex education in schools; bans tax credits for abortion services; requires health care clinics to give details to women about fetal development and abortion health risks; and bans abortions based solely on the gender of the fetus.

Despite the controversy surrounding the bill, the Kansas House voted ninety to thirty for the bill; hours earlier, the state Senate approved the bill by twenty-eight to ten. Governor Sam Brownback is a strong anti-abortion leader and he is widely expected to sign the bill into law within the next few days. The new restrictions will go into effect on July 1, 2013. Critics of the bill argue that it will be harmful to women. For instance, Kansas Senator David Haley, a Democrat who opposed the bill, argues that advocates of the bill were pursuing a “Taliban-like” course by letting religious views dominate the debate; he further argues that the law would limit women’s ability to make decisions about health care and reproduction decisions. Haley also contends that some health care providers might interpret the provision specifying that life begins at fertilization as a ban on birth control.

In Planned Parenthood v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833 (1992), the United States Supreme Court held that regulations that place a substantial burden on a woman’s right to have an abortion are unconstitutional. According to the Kansas City Star editorial board, the Kansas bill is one of the most punitive abortion bills in the country because the bill (1) places additional financial hardships on women; (2) forces doctors to disseminate misleading information; (3) puts schools in a difficult legal position; (4) denies tax breaks to any health care facility affiliated with abortion services; (4) forces physicians to consider a patient’s motives for seeking an abortion due to the gender-specific abortion provision; and (5) the bill is intended to “harass abortion providers, patients and other entitles, like schools, which are caught in the middle.” For these reasons, the Kansas bill would likely be deemed an undue burden on abortion rights.

The Kansas anti-abortion law highlights the growing trend of states either enacting or considering anti-abortion legislation. According to the Guttmacher Institute, there was not a single significant measure adopted by any state to expand access to abortion in 2012. The Guttmacher report notes that nineteen states adopted forty-three new provisions restricting abortion access in 2012. This trend has unmistakably continued in 2013. In recent months, Arkansas legislators enacted a ban on abortions after the twelfth week of pregnancy and lawmakers in North Dakota enacted an anti-abortion law that sets the limit at six weeks.

House Votes to Eliminate Title X and Planned Parenthood’s Funding

On Friday, February 18, 2011, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment eliminating  the Title X Family Planning Program and Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s (PPFA) 300+ million dollars in federal funding.  According to the Department of Health & Human Resources, Title X was enacted in 1970 in order to provide access to family planning and other health related services including cancer screenings, breast and pelvic exams, contraception services, STD education, counseling, research and testing, prenatal care and counseling, and community outreach.  Title X funding typically supports low-income and young women without health insurance and is a significant resource of funding for PPFA.

In addition to voting against Title X funding, the House also voted to eliminate Medicaid funding for PPFA.  According to Susan Yolen, Vice-President of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, 30% of the patients who visit PPFA use Medicaid.  According to a fact sheet published by PPFA last September, the organization serves over 5 million men and women annually.

Many people view this attack against family planning programs, and specifically against PPFA, as a win for anti-abortion advocates.  Douglas Johnson, legislative director of National Right to Life legislative, stated,  “This landmark vote demonstrates that most House members now recognize Planned Parenthood is a hyper-political, under-regulated, out-of-control mega-marketer of abortion as a method of birth control.   However, Section 1008 of the Title X statute bars the use of federal funding “to promote or encourage abortion as a method of family planning.”  Also, only a small portion of PPFA’s funding is used in abortion-related services.  According to PPFA, abortions are 3% of the total services provided by the organization.

The most significant and devastating effects of these cuts are that  low-income women and men who use organizations like PPFA for general health purposes.   According to PPFA, 60% of women who receive medical care from these organizations use these clinics as their primary source of health care.    New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg stated, “These proposals have nothing to do with being fiscally responsible…Instead, these proposals would have serious consequences for women’s health in New York City and across the nation.  Removing funding for women’s health clinics through these proposals will likely increase the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, increase the number of women with cervical and breast cancers who are not diagnosed until the cancers are in late stages, and increase unintended pregnancies among women.””

Despite the House’s enthusiasm for defunding Title X and PPFA, this amendment will probably fail in the Democratically-controlled Senate.  And even if the amendment somehow made it to President Obama’s desk, he will probably veto the legislation.  Obama has previously supported family services.  For instance, in one of his first acts in office, Obama lifted the Bush era “gag rule.”  Last week, Obama spoke in favor of PPFA and the work they do.  Right now, however, there is real fear that the Republican House and the Democrat Senate will butt heads over this 2012 budget, including these defunding measures, and shut down the government.




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