Toledo Blade: Funds for Planned Parenthood were a major point of contention

This article first appeared online at The Toledo Blade on April 9, 2011.

Funds for Planned Parenthood were a major point of contention
By Tom Troy

Rep. Jim Jordan said money for Planned Parenthood supports abortions and should not be included in the federal budget.

The use of federal funds for women’s health care by a national abortion provider was the latest flash point of conservative members of Congress trying to make their mark on the federal budget.

The leader of the Northwest Ohio branch of Planned Parenthood said yesterday that Republicans’ efforts to take away its ability to qualify for federal funds for women’s health services threatened the health of low-income women in Lucas County — a position shared by U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo).

But Jim Jordan, a northwest Ohio congressman who leads the conservative Republican Study Group in Congress, said Friday that federal money received by Planned Parenthood supports abortions and should not be included in the budget.

In the deal reached late Friday night, Democrats sidetracked the GOP’s demand to deny federal funds to Planned Parenthood.

An amendment offered earlier by Republicans in the House would have barred Planned Parenthood from qualifying for about $300 million in Title X funds that can be used to provide women’s health care, including cancer screenings and birth control.

Lisa Perks, chief executive officer of Planned Parenthood of Northwest Ohio, said Planned Parenthood has been administering Title X funds since 1970 and is the only agency in the Toledo area that does so.

She said Planned Parenthood of Northwest Ohio saw about 3,400 women last year for sexually transmitted infections, 1,000 for cervical cancer screenings, and 1,000 for breast cancer screenings.

The agency, which has clinics in downtown Toledo and in Springfield Township, does not provide abortions locally.

“We are the sole provider for most of these women, who are uninsured and low-income. We are the only health care they receive,” Ms. Perks said.

“And I’m talking about Pap tests, breast exams, [sexually transmitted infection] tests, cancer screening, birth control information and supplies, those kinds of things — blood pressure check, medical history, and many other referrals,” she said.

In a national telephone news conference Friday, U.S. Representative Jordan (R., Urbana) and Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the organization Susan B. Anthony List, which opposes abortion rights, said the President and Democrats were threatening a partial government shutdown just to protect the nation’s biggest abortion provider.

Ms. Dannenfelser contended that providing abortions is Planned Parenthood’s primary mission.

Mr. Jordan suggested that federal money that goes to Planned Parenthood for nonabortion-related services also supports the abortion side of the business, even though the federal Hyde amendment bars any federal funds from being spent on abortion.

“Come on, money is fungible. We think taxpayers understand this and they don’t want their dollars used in this manner,” Mr. Jordan said. “The country’s broke. The vast majority of Americans don’t want their tax dollars used to take the lives of unborn children.”

Miss Kaptur said she supports funding of Planned Parenthood’s preventive program because it’s the only medical care some women get.

“I’m sure that culturally some of the male members of Congress aren’t comfortable with the women of Planned Parenthood. A lot of women prefer going to places that have women in them rather than male doctors,” Miss Kaptur said. “I have to stand up for women’s rights in this case and the full range of health.”

Planned Parenthood said yesterday that it provides annually nearly 1 million screenings for cervical cancer, 830,000 breast exams, affordable birth control to nearly 2.5 million patients, and nearly 4 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV testing.

In Ohio, Planned Parenthood affiliates serve 100,000 Title X patients at 35 health centers.

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