It was big week on the abortion-rights front as Cecile Richards testified in front of the House Oversight Committee on Tuesday, Sept. 29, as Republican lawmakers continued an investigation into Planned Parenthood in the wake of sting videos that purport to show that Planned Parenthood was selling fetal tissue to researchers.
Richards was repeated interrupted by GOP lawmakers who questioned her about her salary, Planned Parenthood’s finances and the organization’s practice of referring women to radiologists for X-rays.
Among Southern Arizona members, Congresswoman Martha McSally voted in favor of the legislation, while Democrats Raul Grijalva and Ann Kirkpatrick voted against it.
The legislation was in response to several states that have seen their efforts to defund Planned Parenthood stopped by the federal courts.
Arizona is one of those states. In 2012, the Arizona Legislature passed a law determining that any health-care organization that also provides abortion services was ineligible for reimbursement from the federal Medicaid dollars that flow through state.
Planned Parenthood took the state to court and won because federal law requires that states reimburse any “qualified” healthcare provider. State lawmakers tried to redefine “qualified” to automatically disqualify an abortion provider, but the federal courts put the law on hold and in 2014, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to accept the case. (You can see more details here)
McSally spokesman Patrick Ptak said that the “bill was about affording states flexibility regarding where their own funding goes within the state and doesn’t single out any one entity or program. Rep. McSally believes states should have a say in deciding how best to use their own funding for health care, while ensuring access to preventative care and other essential reproductive services for those who need them. She will continue to support solutions that achieve better overall health outcomes for women and men.”
In a statement announcing that President Barack Obama would veto the legislation if it reached his desk, White House officials said the bill “would restrict women's health and reproductive choices.”
“By permitting the withholding of Federal Medicaid funding for such providers, clinics, or hospitals, H.R. 3495 likely would limit access to both critical women's health services and health care throughout local communities across the nation, and would have a disproportionate impact on women and low-income individuals,” the administration statement said. "Moreover, it would undermine a woman's right, upheld by the Supreme Court, to make her own choices about her body and her health care.”