Local and state officials speak out against Planned Parenthood cuts

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and two Democratic governors spoke out against House Republicans' family planning cuts Tuesday as the Senate prepares to take up the stop-gap funding bill for the rest of the year.

The continuing resolution passed by the House last week eliminated Title X family planning grants, a $327.4 million savings from the president's proposed budget for FY 2011. The House also adopted an amendment from Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) that bars Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funding for programs such as HIV screening, breast and cervical cancer screenings and infertility prevention.

Abortion opponents have made Planned Parenthood a focal point of their strategy this Congress. The organization is the country's largest provider of abortions, and Pence has argued that cutting funding for its health clinics will impact Planned Parenthood's ability to carry out abortions.

Bloomberg and the two governors, however, said cuts to family planning would only harm poor women and possibly increase the number of abortions.

"Many people don't realize that more than 90 percent of our health services are preventive in nature," said Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards. "Every year, the doctors and nurses in our centers provide birth control to more 2.5 million women; we conduct more than 1 million cervical cancer screenings and nearly a million breast exams."

Taken together, the two House measures will have "very negative consequences," said Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy (D), "including driving people in the direction of abortions from unplanned pregnancies."

"I can only imagine that this is a politically motivated vote having nothing to do with public health, having nothing to do with the welfare of children or of women," Malloy said during a conference call organized by the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "It would be a gigantic blow to the state of Connecticut if these cuts were to take place."

Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) shared similar concerns.

"Cutting Title X money would be devastating for Vermont women," he said. "In a small, rural state like Vermont, often times this is the only healthcare that they get."