Source: North Jersey.com
Now with Mike Pence as vice president and Republicans in control of Congress, the possibility of cutting federal funds to Planned Parenthood may be within reach, anti-abortion activists say. Pence and Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to the president, both addressed the national March for Life in January, the highest-ranking White House officials ever to do so.
“Life is winning,” Pence said.
As a congressman, Pence proposed the first defund Planned Parenthood bill in 2007. The movement took off in 2015, when an edited, secretly recorded video was released that showed a top Planned Parenthood doctor discussing the sale of tissue from aborted fetuses with two people posing as employees of a company that wanted the tissue for research.
It ignited a firestorm. New Jersey’s Rep. Chris Smith, R-Hamilton, a 30-year leader of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-life Caucus, spoke on the House floor to decry the “trafficking in baby body parts and intact organs” by Planned Parenthood, calling it a “chain of abortion mills” responsible for killing “about 330,000 children per year.”
If Congress bars payment of federal Medicaid funds to Planned Parenthood, “individuals who have Medicaid as their health insurance would not be able to come to Planned Parenthood and use their insurance,” Olesko said. These low-income patients “would not be able to go to the provider of their choice,” she added.
There were about 3,100 patients who sought care in Paterson in 2015, 4,400 in Hackensack and 2,300 in Englewood. Where would they go?
Planned Parenthood’s opponents want its funding to go instead to federally supported primary-care centers, such as the Paterson Community Health Center and North Hudson Community Action Corp., with health-care sites in Passaic, Englewood, Hackensack and several Hudson County locations.
Although leaders of both those health-center programs say they would be able to absorb additional patients, none of them offers abortions. Passaic County’s hospitals all are Catholic; as such, they do not provide abortions.
New Jersey’s next election could have an impact on the future of family planning services in the state. A Democrat, with the support of the Legislature, could restore state family planning funding and perhaps replace some federal Medicaid funds.
State Sen. Loretta Weinberg, the Teaneck Democrat and Senate majority leader who has sponsored legislation to bring back the funding each year since 2010, is somewhat optimistic. “If we have the right governor,” she said, “we will find a way in the state of New Jersey to protect women’s access to complete reproductive care.”
Meanwhile, the fight for public support – by both sides – goes on.
Last month, hundreds of anti-abortion activists demonstrated outside 200 Planned Parenthood sites nationwide, including those in Shrewsbury, Morristown, Freehold, Plainfield, Washington and Newton. Another group, Live Action, released a video that it said showed Planned Parenthood did not provide prenatal care, something Planned Parenthood said is not a part of its mission.
Also last month, supporters of Planned Parenthood hosted more than 100 house parties across the state, where guests wrote letters urging Congress not to defund the organization.
And in an interior waiting room of the Paterson Planned Parenthood center, postcards have been available for weeks, inviting patients to share their stories and “stand with Planned Parenthood.”