Restrictive bill targeting Planned Parenthood passes, without help from Alaska senator

Published: Mar. 30, 2017 at 3:45 PM AKDT
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With a successful vote on Thursday, the Senate paved the way for states to individually decide whether to withhold federal funding to health care organizations that also perform abortions.

In a split decision, 50 Republican senators voted for the bill, while 48 Democrats and two Republicans voted against it. The 50-50 vote resulted in Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie breaking ballot to advance the measure to the president’s desk.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine and Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska were the only Republicans to vote against the bill.

"This vote is consistent with the Senator's long-held belief that men and women should have access to the family planning and reproductive health services they need, including cancer tests and health screenings. Senator Murkowski believes further limiting access to healthcare services is not the direction we should be moving," wrote Sen. Murkowski’s spokesperson Karina Petersen.

The regulation, enacted under the Obama administration, prevented states from discriminating against programs, like Planned Parenthood, when distributing Title X planning grants to community health centers, according to NBC News. At least a dozen state legislatures have previously tried to block funding to these programs.

In accordance to current law, none of the Title X grants were ever legally allowed to be used to directly pay for abortion services, and funding could only be spent on other women’s health care services.

In a statement to NBC News, the congresswoman, who originally introduced the bill, referred to it as a matter of state’s rights.

“The Obama rule tried to force states - including Tennessee - to send taxpayer money to abortion providers, like Planned Parenthood, instead of community health centers and other qualified health providers," said Republican Rep. Diane Black from Tennessee. "Title X has worked for 45 years, until the Obama Administration changed the rules, and this legislation will simply undo this ill-conceived change."