The Senate easily stopped a bill yesterday to defund Planned Parenthood. The rider was offered as a “correction” to the 2011 appropriations bill, which passed and was signed by the President yesterday. As a face-saving piece of the deal, the Senate ensured a vote on the rider, which almost led to a government shutdown last week.
Five Republicans – Mark Kirk, Lisa Murkowski, Scott Brown, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins – voted with every Senate Democrat against the correction. In another correction given a vote in the Senate, Democrats defeated an effort to repeal the health care law on a straight party line vote, with all Democrats opposing and all Republicans supporting.
This ultimately turned into a fairly harmless vote for Democrats, as they showed that defunding Planned Parenthood doesn’t have close to majority support in the Senate. They also forced Republicans on the record about the popular family planning organization, eliciting a vote that could resonate with female voters down the road. And it ended up being a point of unity, with even Bob Casey and Ben Nelson joining in the defense of Planned Parenthood.
The final appropriations deal will spread pain to many sectors, but Planned Parenthood will not be one of the victims.
In a related story, I thought I’d mention the DC Abortion Fund. As you know, one of the more harmful riders in the appropriations deal blocked the District of Columbia from using their own Medicaid system, even when funded with local dollars, to provide abortion services. The funding shut down Wednesday night at midnight, and 28 women scheduled for appointments the next day were told they could not use DC Medicaid as payment. The DC Abortion Fund raises money for patients like this who would otherwise be unable to make choices about their own reproductive future on their own. As of last night, DCAF had raised over $14,000 to help defray the cost for these 28 patients, who otherwise would have had to scramble to find the money for a legal medical procedure overnight. All 28 of them were able to see their doctor.
It’s shameful that some patients need to hold fundraisers for their care, but it’s good to see people pitching in.