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House Votes to Defund Planned Parenthood

February 18, 2011 - by Donny Shaw

The Republican House of Representatives took their latest shot at limiting access to abortions today by passing an amendment to their 2011 government funding bill that would defund Planned Parenthood. There amendment has some big problems, however, and it’s very unlikely that it will become law.

First, the Senate, which is still controlled by Democrats, will never agree to this. Some Republicans — namely Sen. Olympia Snowe [R, ME] and Sen. Susan Collins [R, ME] — have even said that they would oppose an attempt to block Planned Parenthood from receiving funding. Senate Democrats are confident they have the votes to block this.

The second problem is that it is clearly unconstitutional. Article 1, Section 9 of the Constitution forbids Congress from passing bills of attainder, i.e. laws that punish a specific individual or group that have not been given a judicial trial. The Republicans passed a similar bill of attainder last year against the community organizing group ACORN that resulted in the federal government being sued. The Republicans may want to repeat that, but nobody else does.

One more thing to be clear on here. Planned Parenthood does not receive federal funding for abortion services. That has been against the law since 1974. They currently receive funds for other health care services, like cancer screening and family planning. But abortion services are subsidized exclusively by private donors. This amendment is about killing Planned Parenthood, not about blocking public abortion funding. That’s already blocked.

By the way, the full roll call details are not yet available, but according to Politico, “The vote was 240-185 with 11 Democrats voting for the amendment, and seven Republicans voting against. One member voted present.”

UPDATE: The full roll call has finally been published and can be viewed here.

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