Before Thanksgiving, Donald Trump sent Marjorie Dannenfelser a voicemail. The message included Trump’s gratitude to the woman and her colleagues for the support that they have given him in the elections. To recall, Dannenfelser is the president of Susan B. Anthony’s List, a group who are against abortion practices. Trump made promises to the group; among these promises was defunding of Planned Parenthood.
Currently, Dannenfelser and other people who are against abortion are gaining the upper hand. Last Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that Republicans will withdraw federal funding allotted for Planned Parenthood. They intend to do this by passing a budget bill and repealing the Affordable Care Act.
On the other hand, people supporting Planned Parenthood will not give up without a fight. They claim that abolishing an entire public health care system in the country is not possible, and that people who are opposing them should think about that can happen if people are deprived of the necessary care that they need.
Planned Parenthood is a legislative greatly opposed by people against abortion. If this program is defunded, significant impacts can be expected especially in those who are relying on government-funded health care services. Affiliates of Planned Parenthood received $533 million as government funds in 2014. This money was 40% of their total revenue, which was at that time was $1.3 billion. This government funding was given in form of reimbursements for services administered to patients on public programs, such as Medicaid. The services covered by this funding include STI testing and cervical screening. However, federal funds are prohibited for abortions. Data showed that 75% of the money provided to Planned Parenthood was given as reimbursements through Medicaid.
According to Judith Solomon, vice-president for health policy at Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, there should be alternatives in case that funding for Planned Parenthood is ripped. However, the problem is there are no alternatives at the moment, and this becomes an issue especially in low-income women who are covered by Medicaid.
Republicans have higher chances of repealing Affordable Care Act and defunding Planned Parenthood though Democrats will surely try to stop them. Moreover, Republicans hold a 52-48 majority to the Senate, increasing the possibility of enacting the defunding measure. Two senators, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, are worried about what lies ahead for Planned Parenthood. Meanwhile, Rand Paul of Kentucky, disapproves repealing of Affordable Care Act if there is no concrete substitute plan in place yet.
SBA are fully intent on giving Democrats headache in their fight for defunding measure. At present, they are pressuring six senators who are expected to run for 2018 election; these senators include Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Jon Tester of Montana, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and Bill Nelson of Florida. Last 2010 midterms, SBA list and its allies collaborated in beating Democrats who were against abortion but approved of Affordable Care Act.
In current election, Dannenfelser and her colleagues eyed 1.6 million voters, and their attention was centered on Hispanic areas in Florida and Democratic and independent areas in North Carolina and Ohio. They wanted to identify those who are more inclined to vote against abortion but are not regular voters, new Democrats, Independents, and Hispanics who are easily affected by issue on abortion. They succeeded in re-electing Senators Marco Rubio of Florida, Richard Burr of North Carolina, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Roy Blunt of Missouri, all of which claimed support for their cause against abortion.
Meanwhile, after announcement of defunding of Planned Parenthood, Richards and Hogue went with House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi and other members of House’s Pro-Choice Caucus in announcing their opposition. A new campaign was launched by Planned Parenthood Action Fund. Supporters are expected to stand with the campaign’s stand in opposing defunding of Planned Parenthood, and they will be joining various events in many cities across the country in the coming months. After Trump’s inauguration, Richards and Hogue encourage people to join the Women’s March on Washington, where they hope everyone who benefitted from Planned Parenthood will join in their fight.
As specifics regarding this defunding have not been announced yet, impacts on Planned Parenthood and its affiliates remain unclear. It is possible that states or cities will decide on how much of cost services may be reimbursed without using the government’s money. According to Hogue, NARAL has received more donations after the elections, and they are looking for ways to provide “safe zones” to women in order to provide them with their needed services, including preventive health care.
Meanwhile, people who are against abortion are taking advantage of their current situation. Dannenfelser is exerting all efforts to ensure that Jeff Sessions gets the position of attorney general. Their group are also expecting that Trump will keep his promises to appoint a judge who will work on allowing states to outlaw abortion. It also appears that Trump provides his support in their attempt to pass a legislation abolishing most abortion practices after 20 weeks. Anti-abortion people are also keeping an eye on the senators who are up for re-election in 2018, promising that these people will not get their votes should they withdraw their support for anti-abortion programs. Moreover, Dannenfelser and her affiliates are hoping that they can make Hyde amendment a permanent law and reinstatement of Ronald Reagan’s Mexican City policy.