Women's healthcare providers are readying for a fight. Refusing to back down from its commitment to women's choice, Planned Parenthood is now at risk of losing nearly 40 percent of its funding—and is calling for a massive mobilization to resist the attack on women's health.
Ahead of the official release of House Republicans' the American Health Care Act (AHCA) on Monday evening—which guts funding for any healthcare organization that "provides for abortions"—Planned Parenthood reportedly rejected an offer from the White House to stop terminating pregnancies in exchange for the group to continue receiving federal funds for other essential services.
"Offering money to Planned Parenthood to abandon our patients and our values is not a deal that we will ever accept," said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, according to the New York Times. "Providing critical health care services for millions of American women is non-negotiable."
To be clear, Laguens added, the $500 million received annually in federal funds "do not pay for abortions," as that is expressly prohibited by the anti-choice Hyde Amendment. Rather, the organization uses funding from Medicaid and the Title X family planning program to provide essential women's health services such as birth control, Pap smears, breast exams, and testing for sexually transmitted infections.
The Times reported Monday that an informal offer had been made via "outreach to allies of Planned Parenthood" as a way for President Donald Trump to save face with conservatives while, at the same time, reconciling campaign promises to support women's preventative care as well as "the views of his daughter Ivanka Trump," who has "nudge[d] Mr. Trump toward a nuanced view of Planned Parenthood's work."
According to the reporting, "In private discussions with people close to Planned Parenthood, White House officials have suggested that there could even be an increase in federal earmarks if the work related to abortion ends."
In a statement on Tuesday, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards doubled-down on the organization's position. "We are glad that the White House understands that taking away the preventive care Planned Parenthood provides is deeply unpopular and would be a disaster for women's health care," she said.
But, Richards added: "We will always stand for women's ability to make decisions about their health and lives, without interference from politicians in Washington, D.C.."
In renewing the group's commitment to women's choice, Planned Parenthood is now at risk of losing a significant portion of its operating budget, as do other providers of women's reproductive care, thanks to a provision tucked into the GOP's healthcare plan.
"We will always stand for women's ability to make decisions about their health and lives, without interference from politicians in Washington, D.C.."
—Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood
As the Los Angeles Times' Michael Hiltzik explains, under the newly-released bill,
No federal funding can be made, either directly or indirectly, by Medicaid to a healthcare organization that 'provides for abortions,' other than those done in cases of rape or incest or to save the life of the mother. That's Planned Parenthood...This measure shuts down funding for the organization just because it uses other funds to cover those procedures.
It is worth noting that ahead of the bill's release, some Republican lawmakers voiced concern over tying the plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, with an unpopular defunding effort.
According to earlier data from the Government Accountability Office, as many as 390,000 women would lose access and up to 650,000 would face reduced preventive care within a year if Congress blocked Medicaid patients from Planned Parenthood.
"This would effectively block patients who rely on federally subsidized health care―about 60 percent of Planned Parenthood's 2.5 million patients―from choosing Planned Parenthood for their healthcare," wrote the Huffington Post's Laura Bassett on Monday. "And by rendering the family planning provider unable to serve more than half its patients, the bill would likely force some of its clinics to shut down."
What's more, Hiltzik notes that the ACHA "forbids spending federal tax subsidies on health plans that include coverage of abortion, even if the customer doesn't get an abortion. This would dramatically shrink working Americans' access to insurance-covered abortions, or would lead to insurers dropping abortion coverage from their plans, or both."
With so much at stake, Planned Parenthood is calling for a multi-step mobilization to fight back against the war on women's healthcare.
"Our opponents have shown just how determined they are to cut Planned Parenthood patients off from care, and they won't give in easily," Richards wrote in a Tuesday call-to-action. "But the past few weeks have also proven that we are powerful when we stand together, and speaking out now is a critical first step."
And, Richards added, there will be more to do. "In the days and weeks to come, we will rely on your commitment and your courage," she wrote. "We won't win this fight in a day—but if we're going to win, it has to start right here."