Planned Parenthood, the embattled women's health organization, dodged another bullet last week when the health care bill that would have defunded it failed to pass. But this may be only a temporary victory for women's health. President Donald Trump will "look for other opportunities" to defund Planned Parenthood, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a White House briefing on Monday, proving that women are right to be concerned about their health care.
Planned Parenthood has long been a favorite target for Republicans, despite the serious good that the organization does does in terms of preventative health care, like offering cancer screenings, family planning, STI testing, and more to women (and men!) who otherwise wouldn't be able to afford such necessary health services. According to the official Planned Parenthood statistics, the organization helps around 2.5 million people a year.
The rub for Republicans, of course, is the fact that Planned Parenthood provides abortions, although abortions are only very rarely paid for with taxpayer dollars (due to the Hyde Amendment, no federal dollars are used on abortions except in cases of rape or incest). Naturally, the Republican alternative to Obamacare, the American Health Care Act, would have yanked a significant amount of federal reimbursement from the organization, hampering its abilities to help people. The failure of that bill gave Planned Parenthood a reprieve, but it may only be a temporary one.
While the health care bill was perhaps the easiest opportunity for the government to defund Planned Parenthood, there will be other ways for opponents of comprehensive women's health to try to yank support. An upcoming necessary government spending bill, for example, could include a defunding provision. However, Democrats would likely then unite to oppose the measure, resulting in another government shut-down.
The administration may try to defund Planned Parenthood in other ways. As Chris Charbonneau, the chief executive of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands, told Reuters in a phone interview after the defeat of the health care bill,
It's one good night's sleep, and then we have to see what they are going to cook up. They're trying to find some vehicle that they could hook some Planned Parenthood defund(ing) to.
The good news is that while Spicer said that the administration would be looking for other opportunities to defund the organization, he did not concretely commit to anything in particular. And despite what you might think, Planned Parenthood is actually enormously popular. A recent poll found that 62 percent of Americans oppose pulling federal funding for the organization.
So, the fight will continue. But plenty of people will be on Planned Parenthood's side.