Key Pennsylvania Senate committee votes to partly defund Planned Parenthood

It prohibits abortion providers from getting state Dept. of Health funds.

Pennsylvania State Capitol.

Pennsylvania State Capitol.

Harvey Barrison/Flickr

A key committee in the Pennsylvania state Senate today voted in favor of a bill that would partially defund Planned Parenthood in Pennsylvania — a move opponents of the bill say could lead to the closure of Planned Parenthood centers in Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, the prime sponsor of the legislation said during a hearing that he doesn’t know how much money would be saved if the bill were to pass … then admitted he’s unclear on what services Planned Parenthood actually provides.

The state Senate Finance Committee approved the legislation on a 7-5 vote. The bill prohibits abortion providers and their affiliates from receiving Pennsylvania Department of Human Services funds, though public funds in Pennsylvania do not fund abortion. Instead, the targeted funds are earmarked for family planning services.

The bill, introduced by Sen. John Eichelberger, R-Blair, prioritizes how Department funds earmarked for family planning programs are allocated, starting with non-public hospitals and federally qualified health centers, and then to rural health clinics. It’s still unclear what the dollar impact would be on both the state budget and on Planned Parenthood locations across the state, and Eichelberger said during today’s committee hearing that he didn’t know how much money would be saved through the bill’s passage.

Later, under questioning about the potential impact on Planned Parenthood’s sexual education programming by State Sen. Vincent Hughes, D-Phila., Eichelberger responded: “I don’t know what Planned Parenthood provides.”

Democrats sitting on the Finance Committee asked several questions about whether or not the bill would limit access to family planning services and healthcare for women. Eichelberger denied this would be the case, and said women seeking those services can instead go to community health centers that don’t provide abortion. He insisted the bill aims to improve medical care for women.

Gov. Tom Wolf, a Democrat, has said he will veto the bill if it reaches his desk.

This Senate bill comes in addition to Senate Bill 3, a controversial abortion bill that’s already passed the Senate and is awaiting approval from the House. That bill would change the current 24-week cutoff for abortions to 20 weeks and would make a technique called “dilation and evacuation” illegal and penalize doctors for performing it.

Below is the full text of Senate Bill 300. You’ll notice it doesn’t mention Planned Parenthood by name, but a memo notes the bill is “modeled after” legislation that was introduced last session: A House bill that aimed to end reimbursements from the state Department of Health to Planned Parenthood for family planning services. That bill died in the House Committee on Health last year.

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