House Democrats and their nonprofit allies accused Republicans Thursday of launching a two-pronged assault on women’s health care by using fast-track budget rules to repeal Obamacare and defund Planned Parenthood over its abortion practice.
Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and her troops said the GOP should gird for a dogged fight, noting the Affordable Care Act made it illegal to charge women more than men for health coverage, expanded contraception coverage for female workers and made critical preventive services — such as breast or cervical cancer screenings — available at no cost.
She said Speaker Paul D. Ryan upped the ante Thursday by confirming that Republicans would reprise their effort to defund Planned Parenthood as part of a budget effort that, if successful, would allow the GOP to kill the 2010 health law without having to face a Democratic filibuster in the Senate.
Federal funding for abortion is effectively banned by recurring language known as the Hyde amendment, though Republicans say taxpayers shouldn’t prop up Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, at all.
Planned Parenthood received $553 million in taxpayer funding last year, the bulk of which came in the form of federal Medicaid reimbursements.
Those dollars would be better spent at community health centers, Republicans argue.
The defunding effort was part of the GOP’s test-run for Obamacare repeal in late 2015, causing an outcry from Democrats and supporters who say the organization provides an array of critical health services.
“This is a priority for the Republicans,” Mrs. Pelosi warned, urging on a fight alongside Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America.
“This is about respect for you, for your judgment,” Mrs. Pelosi said.
Alana Ramo, who works for at a D.C. nonprofit, said she had ovarian surgery as a teen and relies on Obamacare coverage to obtain hormonal birth control, preventing new cysts and protecting “me and my remaining ovary.”
Congressional Republicans have pledged not to pull the rug out from people who rely on existing Obamacare coverage while they devise a new plan, though Democrats and outside medical groups have criticized this repeal-and-delay approach as too risky.
House Democrats said they will rally women and other Obamacare supporters to resist the GOP’s plans, as the debate on Capitol Hill heats up, arguing many voters who backed President-elect Donald Trump would be shocked to see their benefits disappear.
“You have no mandate to take away our health care,” Ms. Hogue told Republicans. “You have awoken a sleeping giant.”