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Republican Assault on Women's Health - GOP Attack on Planned Parenthood

Government Shutdown Threats Overshadow Debate Over Defunding Planned Parenthood

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When the Republican-controlled House came into power in January 2011, the GOP -- spurred on by the newly elected Tea Party members of Congress -- began crafting legislation that former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi labeled an assault on women's health. Three key pieces attempted to further restrict abortion and access to abortion. One was specifically targeted to deny family planning funding under Title X to health care providers that offer abortion services -- an apparent attack against Planned Parenthood. When the federal budget battle came to a head in April 2011, the issue became a major bone of contention.

1. Nancy Pelosi - "Extreme Legislation" Threatens Women's Health

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Former Speaker of the House and current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke out in February 2011 against three pieces of legislation proposed by GOP representatives intended to curtail women's reproductive rights. One, the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act sponsored by Rep. Mike Pence, was an attempt to eliminate family planning funding for Planned Parenthood, and would later prove to be a controversial and divisive issue in the 2011 federal budget battle in April.

2. House Vote to Defund Planned Parenthood Based on Falsified Videos

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When the House voted to defund Planned Parenthood by blocking their access to Title X funding, GOP members cited a video made by a group called Live Action which allegedly showed Planned Parenthood employees pressuring women and girls to choose abortion. But as the Huffington Post noted, the video was heavily edited, taking many employee comments out of context. The deliberate falsification of the video's content led many to question the intentional undermining of Planned Parenthood.

3. 'Stand Up For Women's Health' Rally Shows Support for Planned Parenthood

Photo courtesy © Doris Lin
During a week of heated debate and the possibility of a government shutdown if Congress failed to enact an annual federal budget, Planned Parenthood planned a rally to show Congress and the media the level of public support that exists for the beleaguered organization. On Thursday, April 7, the "Stand Up for Women's Health" rally took place in Washington, DC.

4. Mainstream Media Ignores Planned Parenthood Women's Health Rally

Photo © Doris Lin

Despite the presence of several thousand women and men at the "Stand Up For Women's Health" rally, and promises by attendees Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Patty Murray (D-WA) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) that women's health would not be sacrificed, there was scant mainstream media coverage of the event. Instead, all eyes were on Congress where federal budget negotiations took priority, as partisan bickering over the defunding of Planned Parenthood continued.

5. What About That 'Abortion Rider'?

In the final days of the 2011 budget debate, the proposed defunding of Planned Parenthood was often referred to by legislators and the media as "the abortion rider" and became one of the most vehemently-argued portions of the budget. Although the rider was ultimately not included, its inaccurate label caused problems and worried Planned Parenthood, which stressed that women's health care was the true issue, not abortion.

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