Nine Democratic female senators held a news conference Friday to slam Republicans for their insistence that funding for Planned Parenthood be stripped from a stopgap spending bill to keep the government running.
“These cuts are biased, politically motivated, they hurt women, and we the women in the Senate will not let it happen,” said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat. “What’s at stake isn’t the amount of cuts, it’s the ability of American women — poor American women — to get health care service.”
Added fellow California Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer: “To think that this government could shut down because there’s a group of people over in the House — Republicans — who are so extreme that they would stop women’s health programs is extraordinary.”
“We are determined to draw a line in the sand,” Mrs. Boxer added. “There are moments when you must do that, and this is one of those moments.”
Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, Maryland Democrat, called the Republicans’ approach “a radical agenda against women.”
“This has no impact on the budget; it has no impact on the deficit or the debt. What it does is reduce opportunities for women,” Ms. Mikulski said.
Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, called the GOP move to defund Planned Parenthood “offensive.”
“We’re not going to allow them to use women as pawns at the end of a critical debate when this country is waiting to move on,” she said.
Mrs. Murray said 5 million women nationwide depend on health care programs that would be affected if the cuts went through.
The senators’ downplayed Planned Parenthood’s role as the nation’s biggest abortion provider, focusing instead on the group’s role in providing preventative health care — including cancer screening, diabetic management and birth control.
The senators said that more than 90 percent of the care provided by Planned Parenthood is preventative health care.
They added that, under existing federal rules, federal money can’t be spent on most abortions anyway except to save the life of a women or for pregnancies resulting for rape or incest.
The Democrats were joined Friday by a group of anti-abortion religious leaders who accused Republicans of holding women’s health hostage in their attempts to strip Planned Parenthood.
“The concerns regarding Planned Parenthood are misguided. It is clearly understood that there is no federal funding for abortion — end of discussion,” said the Rev. Derrick Harkins, pastor of Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington.
“Threatening to shut down the government over funding for Planned Parenthood is a distraction that won’t balance the budget or prevent the tragedy of abortion,” added Steve Schneck, director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington.