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Senate GOP needs Pence to break tie on family planning funds
03 April 2017, 03:25 | Clarence Schmidt
Vice President Mike Pence broke a tie Thursday on legislation to reverse an Obama-era rule protecting funds for defund-planned-parenthood-in-obamacare-replacement/">Planned Parenthood and other family planning providers.
Senator Mitch McConnell, the Republican Leader, said that the HHS regulation "is an unnecessary restriction on states that know their residents own needs a lot better than the Federal Government".
Although Republicans hold 52 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate, two of them - Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of ME, voted against the proposal, resulting in a 50-50 deadlock.
"The clear objective of this Title X rule change was to benefit abortion providers like Planned Parenthood", said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of NY, who is chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities.
"It is unprecedented that we are here with the vice president breaking a tie vote on an attack on women's health across this country", Sen. Obama administration officials said it was necessary because thirteen states had tried, since 2011, to limit federal grants to family planning organizations.
After a line of Democrats came to the Senate floor to oppose the measure, Murray pointed out that most Republicans who voted for the measure opted not to defend it on the Senate floor. "It would let states treat women as second-class citizens who don't deserve the same access to health care as men".
The vote marks the third time Pence has had to break a tie since becoming vice president.
One of the main reasons for this latest Title X development is so that Republicans can completely reassure their constituents that taxpayer money isn't going towards funding abortions.
Ahead of the final vote Thursday, Democrats had been slamming the GOP for considering repealing the Obama-era rule.
With Republicans holding 52-48 control of the Senate, the Collins and Murkowski defections could have derailed the bill because Sen. The bill has already passed the House and now moves to President Donald Trump's desk.
"It is appalling that 24 hours ago, Vice President Pence was headlining a forum on empowering women, and today, he is leading mostly male politicians to take away women's birth control".
Pence, an evangelical Christian, was a leader in efforts to defund Planned Parenthood while serving in Congress and he co-sponsored "personhood" legislation calling for constitutional rights at the moment of fertilization.
The Title X grants given to Planned Parenthood can not be used for abortion services. In the programs main priorities for 2017, "assuring the delivery of quality family planning and related preventive health services, with priority for services to individuals from low-income families", topped the list.
The measure, he said, "will disproportionately hurt people in rural and underserved areas where these clinics are more often than not their primary source of health care". In 2011, IN slashed funding for Planned Parenthood, shutting down many rural clinics.
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