On Friday, the Republican-dominated House of Representatives passed an amendment stripping Planned Parenthood of all federal funding, with a vote of 240 to 185.
Although it is expected that the spending bill — of which the amendment is a part — will not pass through the Senate in its current language, some students on campus are upset.
The Republican Party has argued that this amendment, sponsored by Representative Mike Pence (R-Ind.), will ensure that federal funding does not go to financing abortions. However, contrary to general belief, abortions provided by Planned Parenthood are not federally funded under U.S. law.
If the Senate passes the bill, the government will be responsible for eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood’s offered services of “birth control, cancer screenings, HIV testing, and other lifesaving care,” according to Planned Parenthood’s online campaign against their potential funding cuts.
“I’m outraged,” Penn Democrats President and College sophomore Isabel Friedman said. The Republicans “have painted Planned Parenthood as an organization that only provides abortions, but they’re completely missing the fact that this organization provides so many other services for women’s health,” she explained.
On the other hand, College Republicans President and Engineering junior Peter Terpeluk explained that though he understands that abortion services are not government-funded, he feels that “it’s controversial that Planned Parenthood is government -funded, because they are the number one abortion funder in America.”
Demie Kurz, co-director of Women’s Studies at Penn, stressed that abortions are a small part of what Planned Parenthood does. They are an “institution that provides education to its clients on issues of reproductive health that isn’t available elsewhere,” she said.
According to Kurz, teen pregnancy rates in the U.S. are high due to a lack of education. Thus “this bill is counterproductive, and in this move there is no regard for women and their needs,” Kurz explained.
With regards to the seeming importance of reproductive education to the U.S. government, College freshman Tara Gonzalez said, “The federal campaigns that advertise safe sex now seem hypocritical if there’s no funding to back it and to get people the help they need” at a national institution like Planned Parenthood.
However, according to Terpeuluk, other venues for reproductive health education should be sought. “I think there are other forums for learning about reproductive issues and that Planned Parenthood, as an educator, represents a conflict of interest because of the abortion services it provides,” he said, adding “they are doing just well without federal funds.”
Maggie Groff, vice president for external affairs at Planned Parenthood of South East Philadelphia, said this bill, if passed with the current language, “would have a devastating effect on Planned Parenthood services everywhere, but especially in this urban center where “we serve thousands of college-aged students a year.”
Many Penn students are taking a cyber-stance on this issue by dedicating their statuses to the cause and joining “Stand With Planned Parenthood” groups on Facebook.
Friedman stressed that this debate goes beyond “whether you are a pro-life or pro-choice Democrat” and is simply “a bad decision made by the House.” College freshman Ian Cohen agreed, saying that “this is another example of how politics is no longer about the needs and wants of the people.”
Although Groff was optimistic that “the Senate would not agree to this amendment on an up or down vote,” she feared for what the final language will look like after the Senate negotiates with the House. Groff stressed that “our supporters, like Sen. [Bob] Casey [(D-Pa.)] … need to stand strong and say we’re not going stand for a bill with this kind of language.”Comments powered by Disqus
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