With Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote, the Senate passed a bill yesterday to let states defund Planned Parenthood.
The bill will go to President Trump to sign next.
The bill will allow states to withhold federal funds from health care providers that perform abortions, including Planned Parenthood. It’s already illegal to use federal money to directly provide abortions, so these soon-to-be-slashed funds were going to non-abortion services like breast exams, vaccinations and pap tests.
The bill was stuck at a 50-50 tie, USA Today reports, with female Republicans Susan Collins (Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) breaking with their party to oppose it. And so Mike Pence, whose attitudes about female sexuality forbid him from eating a slice of pizza with an unescorted woman, cast the tie-breaking vote to deprive women in Republican states of access to health care.
The decision will affect the LGBTQ community as well. Planned Parenthood offers hormone therapy for transgender clients and STD screenings. And in many small towns, Planned Parenthood is the only clinic that offers sympathetic, competent care for sexual health.
Conservatives have been trying to kill Planned Parenthood since its inception, with disastrous results. In 2011, Indiana slashed funding for Planned Parenthood, shutting down many rural clinics. The result was the worst HIV epidemic in the state’s history. And guess who helped pass that bill? Senator (at the time) Mike Pence.
The bill works by forbidding patients from using Medicaid to reimburse Planned Parenthood for their medical expenses. Currently, Planned Parenthood treats a lot of Medicaid patients and bills the government program for payment. This bill would cut them off.
Patients with private healthcare providers would still be able to use Planned Parenthood, but Medicaid patients — the neediest people — will be unable to access affordable sexual healthcare in states that choose to defund it.