Advocates: Planned Parenthood Cuts Will Limit Access To Care

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(Host) Planned Parenthood says some of its clinics in Vermont could close if Congress successfully eliminates the agency’s federal funding.

Proponents of reduced funding say taxpayers shouldn’t have to fund an organization that provides abortions – especially considering the deficit.

VPR’s Nina Keck has more.

(Keck) Indiana Congressman Mike Pence is leading the charge to not just cut, but ban all federal funding to Planned Parenthood through programs like Medicaid and Title Ten. 

That’s a program that funds family planning services for low income Americans. Here’s Pence speaking to fellow lawmakers last month.

(Pence) "Mr. Speaker, it comes as a surprise to most Americans to learn that the largest provider of abortions in America is also the largest recipient of federal funding under Title Ten."

(Keck) Pence says undercover videos have shown Planned Parenthood offering advice about abortions and other services to someone who posed as a pimp. The services allegedly would have been for a child prostitute.

Vermont Congressman Peter Welch says the law already prohibits federal money from paying for abortions. He told his colleagues that Planned Parenthood provides other services.

(Welch) "What this is about is whether primary or preventative care is going to be extended often times to poor people but also to vulnerable middle class people by planned parenthood clinics throughout this country including 10 in Vermont that are doing a great job for people who really need this care."

(Keck) The House voted once to eliminate all Title Ten funding. The Senate refused to go along and the money is still in the budget, for now.

Despite that reprieve, Planned Parenthood expects another attempt to eliminate funding when the spending bill expires next month.    

Jill Krowinski of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England says her organization provides twenty thousand Vermonters a year with cancer screenings, breast exams and a host of other preventative medical care. She says if federal funding disappears, so will some clinics.

(Krowinski)   "Access to women’s health care providers will drastically disappear.   We are in very small communities – and for many women, especially low income women, we are their only source of primary health care and that’s why these cuts are so outrageous and so alarming."

(Keck) But Mary Hahn Beerworth, executive director of Vermont Right To Life, says Planned Parenthood should be able to support itself without taxpayer money, relying on private donations and payment for services it provides.   

She says she’d rather see the federal funding go to existing medical practices, which also provide prenatal care, something she says Planned Parenthood doesn’t do.

(Beerworth) "You know there are collaborative practices on every street corner. Contraception is readily available.  I don’t see the need anymore for Planned Parenthood to be receiving these dollars."

(Keck) Planned Parenthood’s Jill Krowinski says that some medical providers in Vermont may be able to step in and provide care if Planned Parenthood clinics close. But she says replacements aren’t available every community.   

For VPR News, I’m Nina Keck.

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