Bill to defund Planned Parenthood awaits Senate’s 2015 calendar
By Haley Cavazos, Kyle Cavazos, Daniel Goodwin & Danielle Haberly
The Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015 (H. R. 3134) was introduced in the United States House of Representatives on July 21, and passed on Sept. 18 with 241 votes for, 187 votes against, one vote present, or “soft-no,” and five votes were neutral as “not voting”.
Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million in federal funding each year, according to the Washington Post.
This all came about due to the Internet release of a video clip on July 14 showing Deborah Nucatola, senior medical director at Planned Parenthood since 2009, discussing fetal tissue donations. The full length video was later released, and can be viewed on Youtube.
Nucatola is seen discussing how she uses an ultrasound to check the condition of the fetus or organs that are of value, before she removes them. According to 18 U.S. Code 1531, performing partial-birth abortions, meaning the fetus is killed with further action outside the womb, is illegal.
This raises a huge issue with conservatives against abortion, lawmakers and many citizens with various moral standpoints. Nine more videos were released on the Internet, each has footage of Planned Parenthood officials allegedly discussing the sales of baby body parts.
Shortly after, Planned Parenthood released a statement. “A well-funded group established for the purpose of damaging Planned Parenthood’s mission and services has promoted heavily edited, secretly recorded videotape that falsely portrays Planned Parenthood’s participation in tissue donation programs that support lifesaving scientific research,” said Eric Ferrero, the Vice President of Communication of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
U.S. Rep. Roger Williams, R-Austin, is co-signing the bill.
“The recent allegations against Planned Parenthood are morally reprehensible,” said Williams. “There is no justification for the American people to finance an organization that has such disregard for human life,” Williams said in a press release.
Richelle King, Co-chair of Planned Parenthood’s Leadership and Advocacy Council in Texas, says her goal is to debunk myths and misinformation about the organization that the public has latched onto.
“The myth that Planned Parenthood sells baby body parts is a manipulation of language used to confuse people that aren’t aware of how fetal tissue donation works.” King says that women who consent to an abortion can also consent to donating fetal tissue for scientific research in the curing of diseases.
She describes the effect the defunding would have on the people of Texas.
“That would be a devastating blow considering a lot of the people Planned Parenthood serves don’t have health insurance or are low income families dependent on Medicaid.”
King says she is not worried because of President Obama’s speech on Wednesday, Sept. 16. Obama threatened legislators with a veto if the Defund Planned Parenthood Act is pushed through the Senate.
Joseph Trahan, University of Texas Austin sophomore PR major and Campus Director of the University Democrats, was deeply bothered by the news of the government’s plan to strip Medicaid funding from Planned Parenthood.
In response, he started a petition raising awareness and encouraging citizens to sign in support of the organization.
“The petition is also intended to give credibility to the claim that Texans do really care about Planned Parenthood, because there’s strength in numbers,” Trahan said.
As of the second week in circulation, the petition has gathered approximately 450 signatures, including former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis.
“There has been so much misinformation released to the public with the highly edited videos, with baseless allegations of fraud or tampering with abortion procedures that go against federal law. All these claims bear no fruit. No hardcore evidence can support these claims,” Trahan said.
Allison Peregory, Young Conservatives of Texas UT chapter chairman, weighs in on the debate.
“It’s been a major controversy because it questions the integrity of the organization, and it’s illegal to sell baby body parts.”
Peregory says YCT is in favor, along with Texas Governor Gregg Abbott, of the defunding act “based upon the fact that Planned Parenthood has now created doubt and has now created this question of character.”
Peregory backs her chapter saying that for her the issue is more about preserving the moral integrity of the state of Texas.
“Do we really want our money going to an organization that is involved in these kinds of practices?” Peregory said.
Peregory says that Planned Parenthood’s statement after-the-fact was just a PR crisis management stunt to hush the public.
In response to Trahan’s petition, Peregory says “it’s too little too late…this is the law, this is what’s happening and if you didn’t want that law to happen then you should have been protesting and should have been more active about it before.”