WASHINGTON – By a vote of 240 to 185, the House of Representatives approved a measure Friday that would defund the health and abortion services group Planned Parenthood.
The measure was attached as an amendment to the appropriations bill funding the government for fiscal 2011. It passed on a largely party-line vote; only 7 Republicans and 10 Democrats voted against their leadership.
Authored by Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), the amendment would eliminate all $327 million in funding for Title X, a family planning program that began 40 years ago under President Richard Nixon. And while Planned Parenthood receives millions of dollars from the program, Title X funds cannot be used for abortion services.
Instead, the money is to be used for noncontroversial family planning services such as contraceptives, reproductive health counseling and cancer screenings, mostly for low-income families.
Pence said he supports the use of Title X funds for those purposes, but insisted the government must not fund any organization that provides or promotes abortions.
The Democratic-controlled Senate is unlikely to approve the controversial measure.
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) called the measure a bill of attainder, a “legislative enacted penalty aimed at some person or organization that’s identifiable,” and decreed it unconstitutional.
“I challenge anyone to say how this isn’t a bill of attainder,” Nadler said on the House floor. “This amendment is unconstitutional and will be struck down by the courts if it should pass.
Jodi Jacobson, editor-in-chief of the reproductive health news site RH Reality Check, reported that “Title X provides millions of women across the country with access to basic primary and preventive care.”
The pro-abortion-rights group NARAL said the legislation would lead to more unwanted pregnancies by cutting funding for contraceptives.
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