Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Vice President Mike Pence

"Pence is the first vice president ever to break a tie to undermine women's access to care." (Photo: Getty)

VP Pence Casts 'Awful' Tie-Breaking Vote to Defund Critical Family Planning Program

Senate pushes forward with effort to allow states to slash funding for "lifeline" reproductive health clinics

Nika Knight

To widespread outcry, a procedural vote on a GOP effort to slash funding for the Title X family planning program, which funds clinics that largely serve poor women and women of color, passed the Senate Thursday after Vice President Mike Pence was forced to cast a tie-breaking vote.

The measure repeals an Obama-era rule that blocks states from defunding healthcare providers for political reasons. The Republican-led effort appeared designed to target Planned Parenthood clinics, which receive funds under Title X.

"The Title X family planning program is a vital source of family planning and related preventive care for low-income, uninsured, and young people across the country," wrote the Leadership Conference for Civil and Human Rights in an open letter to Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).

"Every year, more than four million individuals access life-saving care such as birth control, cancer screenings, and testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV at Title X-funded health centers," the advocacy group observed. "Seventy-five percent of Planned Parenthood patients are at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level and half of their health centers are located in rural or underserved areas. People of color comprise forty percent of Planned Parenthood patients."

"For decades, the Title X Family Planning Program has been a lifeline for women, helping them to have healthier families and lead healthier lives," wrote the Center for American Progress' (CAP)

The Title X amendment to the Public Health Service Act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970, and "it is the only federal domestic program focused solely on providing people with critical reproductive health services related to family planning and contraception, including physical exams, prescriptions, laboratory exams, contraceptive supplies, and referrals when medically needed," Gillette-Pierce and Taylor noted.

Democratic senators testified passionately against the attempt to cut Title X funding:

In fact, the effort to dismantle Title X funding proved so unpopular that two female Republican senators—Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine—refused to vote for the measure to move forward with it.

As a result, the effort gridlocked, and virulently anti-choice Pence was forced to cast a tie-breaking vote. "Pence is the first vice president ever to break a tie to undermine women's access to care," tweeted Planned Parenthood.

The roll-call for the vote can be found here.

A final vote on repealing the Obama-era rule could take place as early as Thursday afternoon, according to The Hill.

Meanwhile, people are outraged, and taking to the streets to protest the latest GOP attempt to severely limit access to women's healthcare.

"Republicans have literally had to fly in a senator to vote and haul the Vice President—Mr. Defund-Planned-Parenthood-himself—to the Senate floor to cast a tie-breaking vote. All of this makes the GOP desperation and obsession with taking away reproductive health care crystal clear," NARAL Pro-Choice America national communications director Kaylie Hanson Long charged in a statement.

Opponents of the measure are also tweeting under the hashtags #TitleX, #ProtectOurCare, and #HandsOffMyBC:


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

'A Very Serious Threat': CDC Document Warns Delta Variant Is as Contagious as Chickenpox

"People need to understand that we're not crying wolf here," said the CDC director. "It's one of the most transmissible viruses we know about."

Jake Johnson ·


As Biden Refuses to Act, Dems Make Last-Minute Push to Extend Eviction Moratorium

"If the administration won't act to extend the national eviction moratorium that expires on Saturday, we must," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

Jake Johnson ·


Poll: Overwhelming Majority of US Voters Want Robust Regulation of Tech Companies

"When it comes to Big Tech's monopoly power and surveillance business model, the public is unified: They want action. They want to see the Big Tech companies broken up and users' privacy protected."

Brett Wilkins ·


228 Republicans Blasted for Brief Urging Supreme Court to Overturn Roe v. Wade

"Every single politician who signed this amicus brief is actively working to strip away our fundamental freedoms and endanger pregnant people and families across the country."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Historic Victory': Bayer to End US Residential Sales of Glyphosate-Based Herbicides

"As agricultural, large-scale use of this toxic pesticide continues, our farmworkers remain at risk. It's time for EPA to act and ban glyphosate for all uses."

Kenny Stancil ·