Planned Parenthood is under threat again, less than a week after nearly losing its funding in the budget cuts that helped to avert a government shutdown.
But it is fighting back.
The bill to de-fund the organization, sponsored by U.S. Rep. Diane Black, R-Tennessee, is expected to be voted on in the House of Representatives Thursday.
“This is a direct attack on women’s health,” said Carey Pope, executive director for NARAL Pro-Choice North Carolina. “If the vote doesn’t go our way, then everybody would end up losing.”
Just last week, Planned Parenthood almost lost its funding — but President Barack Obama refused to cut it from the budget.
Losing funding would disproportionately affect low-income women who rely on Planned Parenthood for services like mammograms and birth control, said Paige Johnson, spokeswoman for Planned Parenthood Central North Carolina.
But the outpouring of support will have an effect on the political process, she said.
“If the support we’ve heard and the support we’ve gotten so far is a sign of commitment and willingness to fight, we are ready for the long haul,” she said.
Many women’s organizations, including Planned Parenthood and NARAL, lobbied in D.C. last week to maintain the funding for Planned Parenthood. They are continuing the efforts with the onset of Black’s proposal.
Black, a former nurse, also attempted to de-fund Planned Parenthood as a state senator.
“Now as a member of Congress, I will continue to fight for the rights of the unborn through legislation like this, ensuring no federal funds are used for the promotion or performance of abortions,” she said in a press release.
Planned Parenthood’s total budget was about $1 billion in 2009, according to the organization’s 2008-2009 annual report. Of almost 11 million services it provided that year, abortion procedures were 3 percent.
Thousands of women have mobilized to email and call their legislators, asking them to oppose the legislation, Pope said.
“We’re definitely feeling the love right now,” she said.
U.S. Senator Kay Hagan, D-N.C., has also voiced her support.
“I hope my colleagues will stop playing political Russian Roulette with women’s health services and instead focus on a bipartisan, comprehensive plan to reduce our long-term debt,” she said in a statement.
But pro-choice organizations also face state opposition from some representatives in the N.C. General Assembly. A bill introduced in the state House last week would add delays, paperwork and bureaucracy to the abortion process.
Titled the Woman’s Right to Know Act, the bill was sponsored by two women — N.C. Reps. Ruth Samuelson, R-Mecklenburg, and Pat McElraft, R-Carteret.
If passed, it would require a woman to wait 24 hours after consulting an abortion provider to have the procedure. Before performing an abortion, a doctor would need to perform an ultrasound of the baby and show the woman images of an unborn child at different developmental stages in the womb.
According to the bill, the images would be accompanied by this message: “The life of each human being begins at conception. Abortion will terminate the life of a separate, unique living human being.”
“It’s the worst bill that we’ve seen,” Pope said. “The fact that it is even being introduced in such a radical format is a threat.”
Abortion is legal in the state until 20 weeks of pregnancy, but most counties don’t have a legal provider.
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