Fight brews in Pennsylvania Senate over Planned Parenthood

Staff and wire reports

HARRISBURG — A fight is brewing in the Pennsylvania Senate over whether state and federal dollars should reimburse family-planning services at Planned Parenthood clinics.

Marjarie Akin, of Boiling Springs stands with a Planned Parenthood sign, during the #TuesdaysWithToomey protest Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, outside of the Federal Building in Harrisburg. Amanda J. Cain photo

The Senate Finance Committee on Wednesday voted 7-5 to approve a Republican-penned bill that sponsor Sen. John Eichelberger says would prioritize family-planning money toward primary care hospitals and clinics that provide a wider array of services.

Eichelberger, R-Blair County, says it wouldn’t necessarily cut off Planned Parenthood clinics if they provide services that don’t include abortion in an area where options are scarce. But Democrats and Planned Parenthood say it would cut off the organization and reduce access to services such as breast exams and screenings for cervical cancer and sexually transmitted diseases.

'Thousands' at risk locally if GOP defunds Planned Parenthood

Sari Stevens, executive director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, said the legislation is just copied and pasted from bills passed in states including Indiana and Texas, where Planned Parenthood facilities have been forced to close.

Stevens attended the committee meeting and noted that Eichelberger admitted he doesn't know what services Planned Parenthood provides.

Rep. Seth Grove, R-Dover Township, said he hasn't had a chance to read the bill, but he supports defunding Planned Parenthood because he believes the services it provides can be offered elsewhere.

Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf has publicly stated he will veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

— Staff reporter David Weissman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.