Saturday, February 6, 2016

PA lawmakers to introduce bill to defund Planned Parenthood

First it was the cynically-named "Women's Right to Know Act," a bill that would force women undergoing an abortion to watch an ultra-sound of her unborn baby before undergoing the procedure.

PA lawmakers to introduce bill to defund Planned Parenthood

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler) wants to eliminate public funding of Planned Parenthood from Pennsylvania's budget. (Michael Matza / Staff Photographer)

First it was the "Women's Right to Know Act," a so-far failed bill that would force women undergoing an abortion to watch an ultra-sound of her unborn baby before undergoing the procedure.

Remember how well that went over? After Gov. Corbett offered that patients could "just close [their] eyes" when facing the ultrasound machine and when it was revealed that the procedure could involve transvaginal or internal probes, bill co-sponsors started dropping like flies.

Today Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R., Butler) unveils his own anti-abortion bill, one simmilar to those being considered in other states, that would eliminate public funding for Planned Parenthood.

The organization provide health services to some 123,000 Pennsylvanians a year. By far the majority of the services it provides are health screenings for cervical and breast cancer, birth control and testing for sexually transmitted diseases, often for low income and uninsured patients. Abortions represent roughly 3 percent of Planned Parenthood's services.

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Metcalfe's bill would put health care providers that offer abortion services at the bottom of the state funding list. Yet the legislation is called the "Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priority Act."

Joining Metcalfe at the Capitol media center for a news conference at 10 a.m. are co-sponsors Reps. Gordon Denlinger, Ryan Aument and Bryan Cutler, all Republicans from Lancaster, and Rep. Kathy Rapp (R., Forest), sponsor of the ultrasound bill. Supporting the bill are the Pennsylvania Family Institute, People Concerned for the Unborn Child, Pro-Life Coalition of Pennsylvania and the national anti-abortion group Susan B. Anthony List.

Mallory Quigley, communications director for SBA List, told the Huffington Post the bill an "upgrade" for women's health services because it directs money away from Planned Parenthood clinics and toward hospitals and other kinds of family planning clinics that don't provide abortions. The SBA list keeps a scorecard that follows states cutting funding to Planned Parenthood.

Six states enacted legislation to defund Planned Parenthood in 2011: Wisconsin, Indiana, Kansas, North Carolina, Texas and Tennessee. District judges in all of those states except Wisconsin have since determined that those laws were unconstitutional and have temporarily blocked them, the Huffington Post reported.

Arizona successfully stripped funds from Planned Parenthood, and legislators dropped similar proposed laws in Iowa and New Hampshire, but lawmakers in Kansas, Oklahoma, Ohio and Michigan are considering such proposals.

Click herefor's politics page.

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Commonwealth Confidential gives you regularly updated coverage of the state legislature, the governor and the workings of the state bureaucracy. It is written by Angela Couloumbis in the Inquirer's Harrisburg bureau, based in the statehouse, and by the newspaper's far-flung campaign reporters.

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