Health Care

Pelosi gets personal with GOP on birth control

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is getting personal with her Republican colleagues.
Hammering GOP leaders for tying funding for the Zika virus to restrictions on Planned Parenthood clinics, Pelosi on Thursday wondered aloud how many Republicans abstain from using contraception.
{mosads}”Zika … can be sexually transmitted. … And yet, they’re saying, ‘Well, if we have any funding for Zika it cannot include contraception,’ ” Pelosi said at a press briefing in the Capitol. The Zika virus, most commonly first spread by mosquitoes in tropical regions, can cause birth defects in the newborns of women who are pregnant when they contract the disease.
“I wonder how many of their homes — I wonder this a lot — how many of the families of our Republican colleagues are not practicing birth control?” she asked. 
“How come they don’t have many more children? How come they don’t have five children in six years the way I did? What is it with them that they don’t understand?”
Pelosi, joined by a handful of other House Democrats, was in Washington to put pressure on Republican leaders to return to the Capitol to tackle a number of issues left unfinished before the long summer recess.
Central among them, in Democrats’ eyes, is funding for Zika research and prevention. Both the House and Senate passed bills this summer providing $1.1 billion for the escalating crisis, but the chambers were unable to iron out differences in the proposals before the long break. 
Among the Democrats’ chief complaints was a provision, attached by House Republicans, barring Zika funding for Planned Parenthood. The women’s healthcare group has long been a target of Republicans, who oppose the abortion services provided by some clinics.
Democrats howled at the prohibition, arguing that Planned Parenthood provides nonabortion services — including contraception access — to millions of low-income women who might otherwise be at risk of contracting Zika. It’s a case Pelosi drove home Thursday.  
“Sexually transmitted disease, you use contraception,” she said. “You know, I grant them their position on many issues — we have a different philosophy — but come on. Come back; do the job.” 
Republicans are pushing back hard, arguing that the administration has plenty of resources for Zika wrapped up in unspent Ebola funding.
Speaker Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) office issued a statement Thursday accusing the Democrats of “playing games” with the Zika crisis to score political points in the high-stakes presidential election year.  
“We’re pleased that the Obama administration is finally activating funds it has to combat Zika. But it’s a shame that it’s come after months of shameless political posturing,” Ryan’s office said. 
“Democrats in the administration and Congress have shown over and over again that they’d rather mischaracterize history to demonize Republicans instead of swiftly address a public health crisis. That’s a new low.”
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