Planned Parenthood Warns House GOP Appropriations Bills Attack Global Health

The “slate of dangerous and unpopular provisions” includes “eliminating the Title X family planning program and reinstating the Trump-era expanded global gag rule.”

By Jessica Corbett. Published 7-1-2024 by Common Dreams

A Planned Parenthood exam room. Photo: Planned Parenthood

As the Republican majority in the U.S. House of Representatives uses the appropriations process to promote the GOP agenda ahead of the November elections, Planned Parenthood Action Fund on Monday highlighted how the spending bills attack health within and beyond the United States.

“Once again, anti-abortion rights politicians in Congress are manipulating the federal appropriations process to push for a recycled slate of dangerous and unpopular provisions to block access to sexual and reproductive healthcare across the country and around the world,” states the new PPFA memo.

The PPFA document details anti-health policies in spending legislation for fiscal year 2025 that House Republicans have advanced recently, which include provisions “eliminating the Title X family planning program and reinstating the Trump-era expanded global gag rule.”

The global gag rule bars U.S. government funding for foreign groups that provide information, referrals, or services for abortion care, or advocate for decriminalization or increasing access. It was initially implemented by former Republican President Ronald Reagan as the Mexico City policy, then reinstated and expanded by former President Donald Trump.

Despite Trump’s ongoing legal battles, he is the presumptive Republican nominee to face Democratic President Joe Biden in November. Biden rescinded his predecessor’s gag rule shortly after taking office in 2021. Reproductive freedom has been a key issue in not only that contest but races at all levels of U.S. politics this cycle, as GOP policymakers and candidates have set their sights on abortion carebirth control, and in vitro fertilization.

The gag rule was included in the appropriations bill for the Department of State, foreign operations, and related programs, which the House on Friday passed 212-200. The only Democrat who voted in favor was Rep. Marie Gluesenkamp Perez of Washington—who supports reproductive rights and has shared her own abortion story.

That bill would also “cap funding for international family planning and reproductive health programs at $461 million, a nearly 25% cut,” and end funding for United Nations entities including the U.N. Population Fund, as the PPFA memo notes. It would also “restrict information about and access to gender-affirming care,” and “maintain the Helms Amendment in addition to restrictions on abortion coverage for Peace Corps volunteers.”

Speaking out against the legislation last week, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), ranking member of the House Appropriations Committee, said that “much like last year, the fiscal year 2025 state and foreign operations bill resurrects the doomed isolationism of the early 20th century.”

“For the sake of our national security, women’s health globally, and our response to the climate crisis, Republicans must abandon this reckless and partisan path and join Democrats at the table to govern,” declared DeLauro, who raised the alarm about House GOP appropriations proposals throughout June.

Taking aim at the labor, health and human services, and education legislation last week, she said that “in keeping with the majority’s other partisan bills, this bill is chock full of dozens of poison pill riders, including multiple provisions that attack women’s freedom and block abortion and reproductive healthcare services.”

Specifically, as the PPFA memo points out, it would interfere with postgraduate training in abortion care, impose the Hyde and Weldon amendments, restrict access to gender-affirming care, block Biden administration executive orders intended to boost abortion care access in the wake of Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, and eliminate funding for Title X family planning and teen pregnancy prevention programs while pouring money into abstinence-only-until-marriage initiatives.

It would also “defund” Planned Parenthood, preventing people in communities across the United States—particularly in rural and medically underserved areas—from accessing services including sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, cancer screenings, and birth control, as the memo outlines.

The recently introduced commerce, justice, and science bill would block most federal prisoners from attaining abortion coverage and prevent the U.S. Department of Justice from suing state or local governments over anti-choice laws, according to the memo. The financial services and general government legislation would reverse a District of Columbia law protecting workers from being fired for their reproductive healthcare choices, bar D.C. from using local funds to cover abortion care, and ban Federal Employee Health Benefits Program coverage of most abortions.

“In all, anti-abortion rights politicians continue to act in defiance of the vast majority of their constituents who believe that the government has no right to control people’s personal healthcare decisions with attacks on abortion, birth control, and gender-affirming care,” the publication states.

The document also targets provisions in multiple recently passed spending bills focused on homeland security, the Pentagon, and veterans—including attacks on abortion and gender-affirming care for current and former service members and their families as well as anyone in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody.

“Anti-abortion rights lawmakers recently included similar measures in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)—an annual must-pass bill,” the memo highlights.

After the mid-June NDAA vote, PPFA president Alexis McGill Johnson said that “it’s like Groundhog Day. Anti-abortion rights House members use must-pass bills as a vehicle to force through their deeply unpopular and dangerous agenda—again and again and again. Everyone deserves access to abortion and gender-affirming care, including service members and their families. But these lawmakers would rather play games with our fundamental rights in their attempt to control our bodies, lives, and futures.”

The NDAA and spending bills aren’t expected to pass the Senate—which is narrowly controlled by Democrats—in their current forms, but they send a message about what Republicans would prioritize if they fully reclaimed Congress and the White House.

“The majority’s policy riders do not belong in appropriations bills, and like last year, we will defeat them,” DeLauro said last month. “But it is disappointing that we are going through this charade again, just months after Republicans and Democrats voted for the 2024 appropriations bills.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

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