Following in the footsteps of Republicans in Texas and Arizona, Pennsylvania State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R) proposed on Wednesday a bill that would prohibit the Planned Parenthood Federation of America from receiving any taxpayer funding in his state.
Metcalfe was due to appear at a press conference on Wednesday morning with anti-abortion activists who wrote the bill, including representatives from the Alliance Defense Fund and the Susan B. Anthony List. Both groups boast on their websites of how effective they have been in harming Planned Parenthood’s funding, with the Susan B. Anthony List claiming that it played an integral role in sapping more than $61 million from the women’s health provider in legislative battles across the nation.
In a prepared statement describing his bill, Metcalfe invented a number of allegations about the women’s health group, including a bizarre claim that they perform “an abortion every 95 seconds.” A similarly bizarre, admittedly invented claim landed Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ) in hot water last April, when he alleged that abortions are “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.”
Planned Parenthood says approximately 3 percent of their patients request referrals for abortion services. The vast majority of their work pertains to preventative care, like cancer and STD screenings, birth control prescriptions and reproductive health education, for lower-income patients who are underserved by the health care industry.
The federal government and many states, including Pennsylvania, have already prohibited Planned Parenthood from using taxpayer funds to carry out abortions.
“Regardless of their position on abortion, Pennsylvania taxpayers must no longer be forced to subsidize the loss of innocent lives,” Metcalfe explained on his website. “In reality, women in Pennsylvania will be healthier and the children safer when we permanently defund Planned Parenthood and its anti-family agenda.”
The Guttmacher Institute, a sexual and reproductive health and rights research organization, notes that Pennsylvania is actually below the national average on abortions, coming in just under 40 per 1,000 women in 2008. Nationally, about four in 10 unintended pregnancies result in abortion, with lower-income women making up the majority of patients.
Metcalfe’s bill is essentially a carbon-copy of legislation recently signed into law by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R), known as the Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priority Act. It even carries the same name as Arizona’s bill, which Brewer called “a common-sense law.”
That “common-sense” recently got Texas sued by Planned Parenthood after Gov. Rick Perry (R) signed a similar bill. A federal court in Austin agreed with the group and put a stay on the law earlier this month, but the state won a rapid appeal before the Fifth Circuit Court, arguing before a judge appointed by former President George W. Bush.
Texas also experienced problems with its ban on Planned Parenthood funding after the Obama administration reminded them that federal law requires states not discriminate between health care providers when Medicaid is picking up the bill. Despite the threat of losing tens of millions in federal dollars earmarked for the Texas Medicaid Women’s Health Program, Republicans in the state pushed forward. As a result, Planned Parenthood said it lost up to $13 million, forcing the closure of 12 clinics thus far.
A spokesman for Metcalfe did not respond to a request for comment.
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