Planned Parenthood Supported New Spending Bill Despite Its Anti-Abortion Measures. Here’s Why.

Planned Parenthood Supported New Spending Bill Despite Its Anti-Abortion Measures. Here's Why.

(Photo: David J. Janice L. Frent Collection/Corbis)

Earlier this week, President Obama signed the new $1.1 trillion spending bill. The bill, known as Cromnibus (no relation to the cronut) not only prevents another government shutdown, but also allocates funds for most government agencies through September 2015. 

Cromnibus includes several provisions about abortion rights.

The bill contains provisions that bar federal funding for most abortions, forbid federal and local funding for abortions in the District of Columbia, and deny abortion funds for federal prisoners.

The bill also increased funding for abstinence-only sexual education programming.

This, despite the fact that the recent Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) studied the impacts of abstinence-only education in Mississippi, and concluded that the state’s teens have sex earlier and more frequently than the national average.

Cromnibus still garnered public support from Planned Parenthood.

When asked for comment, the organization would not tell us exactly why, but some, such as Erika Eichelberger at Mother Jones, are speculating that it’s because the pro-choice women’s health organization feared that should this bill not be approved, one with much bolder abortion restrictions would have been drafted and passed by the new Congress upon resuming session in 2015. Plus, it contained some pretty positive measures, and left out others that the organization is decidedly not behind. 

You see, abortion opponents in Congress were advocating for the inclusion of the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act (ANDA) in the bill. 

This would have allowed for health care providers — from doctors to hospitals to insurance companies — to refuse to provide abortions and coverage for them, as well as the right to refuse to refer patients for abortion services or to abortion providers. ANDA was not ultimately included in this spending bill. 

Cromnibus, however, did provide for abortion coverage for new demographics, including Peace Corps volunteers in cases of rape, incest and life endangerment.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire, who worked to have this new coverage included in the bill, said, “Peace Corps service members deserve the same basic health care benefits provided to other women on federal health care plans.” Peace Corps agency director Carrie Hessler-Radelet also released a statement, commenting, “The health, safety and security of volunteers are our absolute highest priorities, and this important step forward furthers our work to enhance volunteer support as we build a better, stronger Peace Corps.”

Peace Corps volunteers, more than half of whom are women, had been banned from receiving abortion coverage since 1979.

The bill also maintained current funding levels for key reproductive health programs.

These include the Title X Family Planning Program, the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program and the International Family Planning and Reproductive Health Program.

All in all, the benefits to female reproductive health outweighed that drawbacks. 

Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards voiced her support for the bill in a statement, saying, “The Appropriations bill is an important step in the right direction when it comes to women’s health — holding the line on deeply unpopular abortion restrictions and expanding access for Peace Corps volunteers. We object to the continued funding of fiscally irresponsible abstinence-only programs that have been proven ineffective, while ignoring calls for increased funding for the programs that have been proven to work and help millions of women across the country get access to basic health care, including affordable birth control.”

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