The U.S. Senate just voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Here's what you need to know.
On Thursday, the U.S. Senate voted in favor of a bill that would all but overturn the 2010 Affordable Care Act. If approved, the bill would no longer require individuals to obtain health insurance; allow large companies not to provide it; remove expanded Medicaid coverage and federal subsidies for lower-income families; and cease all federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Seeking to counter this, Senate Democrats moved to restore federal funds for the healthcare provider, but, according to NBC, “the effort was rejected on a near party-line vote of 54-46.”
Before we bust out the pitchforks, it’s important to note that just because the bill has made it through the Senate doesn’t mean it will become law. In a statement released yesterday, the White House confirmed President Barack Obama’s intentions to veto any bill that would try to repeal the Affordable Care Act — or defund Planned Parenthood.
“By repealing numerous, key elements of current law, this legislation would take away critical benefits and health care coverage from hard-working middle-class families,” the statement reads. “Repealing the health care law would have implications far beyond these Americans who have or will gain insurance.”
“Rather than refighting old political battles by once again voting to repeal basic protections that provide security for the middle class, Members of Congress should be working together to grow the economy, strengthen middle‑class families, and create new jobs,” the statement concludes.
While the U.S. House of Representatives — which currently has a Republican majority — has voted on more than 50 bills opposing various parts of the Affordable Care Act, it’s been tougher for these bills to find traction in the Senate, where Republicans don’t hold enough seats to defeat Democrat-opposed legislation. But this year, the Senate was able to take advantage of a process called “reconciliation” — which only requires 51 votes rather than the standard 60 for legislation to pass; thus allowing the bill to pass through.
In case it isn’t clear, the move is more a symbolic one than an actual attempt at dismantling Obamacare; and Republicans lack the two-third majority in both the Senate and the House to overturn President Obama’s veto. Instead, Senate Republicans are using the bill as an opportunity to “confront” the president, and to have their opinions formally heard. According to NPR, Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama said, “The value is to let him know — the president — and others that there’s a big division in this country, and a lot of us don’t like it, and the American people don’t like it.”
“[Symbolic] votes are important,” NPR explains. “They give senators a chance to go on the record. They provide fodder for campaign ads later. So, to Republicans, even though there’s a pile-up of stuff Congress has to get through in the next couple weeks — like funding the government, passing a highway bill and extending tax breaks — making Obama veto a bill that undermines his health care law and Planned Parenthood is worth their time.”
In light of last week’s horrific shooting and all the disgusting propaganda against them in the past year, it remains more essential than ever that we support healthcare providers like Planned Parenthood — not defund them. In fact, it’s important we remember that a mere 3% of the total services Planned Parenthood provides are abortions; and by law, federal funding can’t be used towards them. By taking away Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, the bill wouldn’t even be taking away from the service it seems to be protesting.
Everyone deserves access to safe and affordable healthcare, and Planned Parenthood remains one of the most important organizations in the U.S. providing health services of all kinds to women and men alike. As always, we’re standing with PP — and it’s good to know that the president is, too.
(Image via Shutterstock.)