March 23, 2011 — Republican Sens. Scott Brown (Mass.) and Olympia Snowe (Maine) have joined two other Republican senators in opposing GOP proposals to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood and the Title X family planning program, the New York Times' "The Caucus" reports (Steinhauer, "The Caucus," New York Times, 3/22).
The House-approved continuing resolution (HR 1) for fiscal year 2011 eliminates funding for the Title X family planning program, which helps provide family planning and reproductive health services to low-income women, including contraceptive counseling and supplies, pelvic exams, breast and cervical cancer screening, safer-sex counseling and basic infertility counseling. The continuing resolution also includes an amendment, introduced by Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), to block federal funding for Planned Parenthood (Women's Health Policy Report, 3/14).
"As a champion of women's health, I have supported access to family planning and women's health services throughout my career," Snowe wrote in an e-mail to the New York Times. "While confronting our serious economic challenges and fiscal realities will require difficult decisions to reach more sustainable levels of government spending, the outright elimination of funding for Planned Parenthood and Title X is a step too far and would have a significant impact on access to the preventive services and screenings that have benefited millions of women nationwide" ("The Caucus," New York Times, 3/22).
Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) said the proposal to defund Planned Parenthood "goes too far." In a statement, he said, "I support family planning and health services for women," adding, "Given our severe budget problems, I don't believe any area of the budget is completely immune from cuts. However, the proposal to eliminate all funding for family planning goes too far" (Fabian, "Blog Briefing Room," The Hill, 3/22).
Brown and Snowe join Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) in publicly stating their opposition to cutting funding for Planned Parenthood. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) has spoken out against eliminating the Title X family planning program. Murkowski and Collins separately announced their opposition to the cuts earlier this month (Sonmez, "2chambers," Washington Post, 3/22). However, all four Republican senators voted in favor of HR 1 last month (HR 1 roll call vote, 3/9).
According to The Hill's "Blog Briefing Room," it is unclear if Brown's statement means he would vote against a future spending bill that includes language to defund Planned Parenthood ("Blog Briefing Room," The Hill, 3/22).
Abortion-rights group NARAL Pro-Choice America on Tuesday praised Brown for opposing cuts to family planning services and Planned Parenthood. NARAL Pro Choice America President Nancy Keenan and NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts Executive Director Andrea Miller wrote in a joint statement, "Today's report that Sen. Scott Brown has said he will oppose efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and other family-planning centers is a positive first step, and we look forward to seeing his name appear in the 'no' column when this vote comes to the Senate floor," adding, "We also call on Sen. Brown to stand up for the Commonwealth's women and oppose other far-reaching and intrusive anti-choice policies as they move from the House to the Senate" (Arsenault, "Political Intelligence," Boston Globe, 3/22).
Fiscal Conservative Coalition Calls for Planned Parenthood Defunding
In related news, a group of 29 fiscally conservative organizations, including Americans for Tax Reform, Citizens Against Government Waste and Americans for Prosperity, sent a letter on Monday to Congress urging the immediate defunding of Planned Parenthood, The Hill's "On the Money" reports.
In the letter, the groups wrote, "On economic merit alone, Planned Parenthood should be near the top of the cut list. To begin with, as Chuck Donovan at the Heritage Foundation has pointed out, Planned Parenthood is awash in net income. From 2002 to 2007, the national organization and its affiliates took in $388 million more than they spent on programs and services. ... Even in the midst of the recession, the president of the organization still received more than $337,000 in an annual salary and tens of thousands more in benefits and allowances. Planned Parenthood is receiving a rolling, annual bailout, and they don't even need it" (Wasson, "On the Money," The Hill, 3/22).