Perry against funding Planned Parenthood
U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-York County, maintains he won't vote for any bill that provides funding to Planned Parenthood after controversial videos appeared to show organization officials talking about selling body parts of aborted fetuses.
Perry, a Republican from the Dillsburg area, equated defunding Planned Parenthood to suspending an employee without pay when an investigation into alleged wrongdoing is launched.
He's one of 18 representatives who sent a letter to House Republican leadership at the end of July demanding Planned Parenthood be defunded.
"We must act to fully defund Planned Parenthood," the letter reads. "Please know that we cannot and will not support any funding resolution — an appropriations bill, an omnibus package, a continuing resolution or otherwise — that contains any funding for Planned Parenthood, including mandatory funding streams."
Since then, the number of House Republicans to join the cause has jumped to 31, causing some to fear the federal government could partially be shutdown if a deal isn't reached as budget talks continue.
The videos: Two months ago, a small group of anti-abortion activists began releasing videos it furtively recorded. Republicans and conservatives say those videos show Planned Parenthood was illegally selling fetal tissue for profit and violating other federal prohibitions.
Planned Parenthood and its Democratic defenders say there is no evidence of wrongdoing. The videos were heavily edited and inaccurate, the organization maintains.
Planned Parenthood provides contraception, tests for sexually transmitted diseases and abortions in clinics across the country. It receives more than $500 million each year from federal and state governments, comprising more than one-third of its overall $1.3 billion annual budget.
Perry questioned why the organization receives federal funding when the Affordable Care Act requires people to get health care insurance that covers most of the services provided by Planned Parenthood.
"Why does this organization need the $500 million?" he asked, adding his stance isn't an attack on women's rights.
Funding: A bill the House is expected to vote on next week would defund Planned Parenthood and would direct the allocation to community health clinics, Perry said.
A companion bill in the Senate is co-sponsored by Sen. Pat. Toomey, R-Pa.
"There is no reason why taxpayers should be providing hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies each year to this organization. A better option, that advances my goal of better health care for women, is to ensure those dollars be used to help community health centers or other organizations that provide affordable health care services to women directly," he said in a statement.
The House could also advance a budget bill that finances government agencies but blocks Planned Parenthood.
Such a bill probably would pass the GOP-run House. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., acknowledges that he lacks the votes to prevail in his chamber and says President Barack Obama would veto it anyway.
A partial shutdown will occur Oct. 1 unless lawmakers provide money to keep government functioning.
The public mostly blamed Republicans in 2013 when a partial shutdown lasted 16 days after they tried dismantling Obama's health care law in exchange for keeping agencies open. The shutdown cost the U.S. economy $24 billion, Standard & Poor's estimated at the time.
Casey: Pennsylvania's two senators take opposing positions on the funding issue.
Sen. Bob Casey, a pro-life Democrat, said in a statement that he continues to support funding for "family planning and contraception, including funds that go to Planned Parenthood, because these programs reduce unintended pregnancies and, as a result, reduce the number of abortions."
"Planned Parenthood facilities provide other services, like cervical and breast cancer screenings and primary health care, to millions of low-income women, and it's those services that would be curtailed by cutting off federal funding to Planned Parenthood," the statement says.
Casey said if Planned Parenthood did violate any laws, those responsible need to be held accountable and should be prosecuted.
— Reach Greg Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Associated Press contributed to this report.