In a one-two punch, House Speaker Paul Ryan said on Thursday that Republicans plan to defund Planned Parenthood when they try to repeal the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.
Thursday morning, Planned Parenthood launched a national campaign focused on keeping Republicans in Congress from gutting the healthcare law, and from passing legislation to “defund” the organisation.
While politicians have popularised the term “defunding” when talking about stripping federal funds for Planned Parenthood, the group’s political communications director, Erica Sackin, said this is misleading.
“There’s no line item in the budget for Planned Parenthood,” Sackin told Business Insider. “We’re not funded through the federal budget bill.”
Planned Parenthood health centres serve 2.5 million people each year, nearly two-thirds of whom rely on public programs like Medicaid to pay for their care. When lawmakers pass bills to “defund” the organisation, (as many states have), those patients then have to pay for healthcare at Planned Parenthood out of pocket.
But the Hyde Amendment already makes it illegal to use Medicaid to pay for an abortion except in the case of rape, incest, or if the mother’s health is endangered. Congress first passed the law in 1977, four years after the Supreme Court ruled women have a constitutional right to abortion in Roe v. Wade.
So while it may seem as if “defunding” Planned Parenthood is a way to prevent abortions, Sackin said, “it’s going to affect people who don’t have anywhere else to go” get care like cancer screenings.
According to Planned Parenthood’s most recent annual report, only 3% of the organisation’s services are abortions. Most people are getting birth control or STD tests at Planned Parenthood clinics:
The ‘defunding’ fight intensifies
The Obamacare battle on the Hill ramped up Tuesday, when the new Congress took over, with Republicans making their case for repealing and replacing the ACA and Democrats arguing to save it.
But that’s just part of the fight.
The GOP party platform outlines its firm stance against abortion, Trump has said he wants to appoint Supreme Court justices to overturn Roe v. Wade, and Pence has enacted some of the strictest legislation against abortion in the country as the governor of Indiana.
Kelley Robinson, the deputy national organising director for Planned Parenthood, said one in five women will visit the organisation in their lifetimes, and that defunding it would be a “national health disaster.”
“The outpouring of need is so, so clear,” Robinson told Business Insider. “People need access to Planned Parenthood. We’re a part of their community, and we’re a critical provider of health care.”