“The in­sult—I think that’s how wo­men feel, and ac­tu­ally the pub­lic,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky,D-Ill., said.

“The in­sult—I think that’s how wo­men feel, and ac­tu­ally the pub­lic,” Rep. Jan Schakowsky,D-Ill., said. Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP

The House Votes to Defund Planned Parenthood

It’s unclear whether the measure will even come up in the Senate, but there could be political consequences anyway.

The House voted along party lines to end fed­er­al fund­ing of Planned Par­ent­hood on Fri­day, as the par­tis­an battle con­tin­ues to es­cal­ate ahead of a pos­sible gov­ern­ment shut­down.

It is un­clear wheth­er the bill, which was ap­proved 241-187, will even be taken up by the Sen­ate, where it would al­most cer­tainly fail to get the hand­ful of Demo­crat­ic votes it would need to head to the White House and Pres­id­ent Obama’s veto pen. It’s also doubt­ful the bill will quiet con­ser­vat­ive law­makers’ calls for a fund­ing to be re­moved for Planned Par­ent­hood in a spend­ing bill that must pass by Sept. 30 to keep the gov­ern­ment run­ning, an is­sue di­vid­ing the Re­pub­lic­an Party and spark­ing the ques­tion of wheth­er this year will be a re­peat of 2013.

But what is clear is that Demo­crats are united in their con­fid­ence that they are on the win­ning side of the is­sue, and that when Novem­ber comes around next year, the chaos cre­ated with­in the Re­pub­lic­an Party—as well as the de­bate it­self—will have worked in their fa­vor.

“The pub­lic is with us,” said Rep. Di­ana De­Gette, co-chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus. “In some ways, it’s even more of a mys­tery why they would bring these bills up now, giv­en that the pub­lic is so solidly in sup­port of Planned Par­ent­hood.”

But GOP Rep. Martha Black­burn said the bill’s sup­port­ers were on the right side of his­tory.

“The dis­cus­sion today is not about videos or wo­men’s ac­cess to health care,” Black­burn said. “It is about our most ba­sic right—the right to life. It is also about do­ing what tax­pay­ers sent us to Wash­ing­ton, D.C., to do. It is about con­tinu­ing the pro­cess to pro­tect our most vul­ner­able.”

The House also voted on a bill strength­en­ing an ex­ist­ing abor­tion bill on Fri­day, which passed along party lines as well.

The de­fund bill would have blocked all $450 mil­lion of fed­er­al fund­ing from go­ing to Planned Par­ent­hood. About $60 mil­lion is ap­pro­pri­ated through Title X fund­ing, and the rest comes from Medi­caid, Medi­care, and the Chil­dren’s Health In­sur­ance Pro­gram. On Tues­day, the Sen­ate will vote on Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham’s le­gis­la­tion ban­ning abor­tions after 20 weeks.

The con­tro­versy over Planned Par­ent­hood stems from the re­lease of a series of sting videos that Re­pub­lic­ans al­lege show the or­gan­iz­a­tion selling fetal tis­sue, which is il­leg­al. But Planned Par­ent­hood denies the al­leg­a­tions, say­ing it donates the tis­sue for med­ic­al re­search and is only re­im­bursed for over­head costs.

Sev­er­al House com­mit­tees have launched in­vest­ig­a­tions in­to the or­gan­iz­a­tion, and two of them have held hear­ings this month that ended in bit­ter par­tis­an de­bate. While Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship is do­ing all it can to avoid an­oth­er gov­ern­ment shut­down, point­ing to the in­vest­ig­a­tions, re­con­cili­ation, and the pres­id­en­tial elec­tion as ways to win the fight, con­ser­vat­ive mem­bers have been adam­ant that no fund­ing should be giv­en in a must-pass spend­ing bill.

But dur­ing Fri­day’s vote, Rep. Trent Franks, one of the most vo­cal op­pon­ents of Planned Par­ent­hood—who has signed onto a let­ter say­ing he will op­pose a spend­ing bill giv­ing the or­gan­iz­a­tion fund­ing—seemed to have softened his tone. He told re­port­ers he thinks us­ing the re­con­cili­ation pro­cess to de­fund Planned Par­ent­hood is “the right strategy,” al­though he would not say wheth­er he would vote for a spend­ing bill con­tain­ing fund­ing for the or­gan­iz­a­tion.

“I’ve sug­ges­ted that, I’ve en­cour­aged lead­er­ship in that dir­ec­tion. Time will tell. But they’re in an im­possible conun­drum, and I think they’re do­ing the best they can,” he said.

But Demo­crats don’t think Re­pub­lic­ans will get out of this so eas­ily.

“This is go­ing to keep go­ing. Over 30 Re­pub­lic­ans have signed a let­ter say­ing they don’t vote for a con­tinu­ing res­ol­u­tion that funds Planned Par­ent­hood,” De­Gette said.

And that’s not ne­ces­sar­ily go­ing to be such a bad thing for them in Novem­ber, some Demo­crats say.

“I think that wo­men in this coun­try can see through this, that this is an at­tack not just on an or­gan­iz­a­tion, but on wo­men’s right to be able to have the health care that they want, at the place that they want, from an or­gan­iz­a­tion that has been so in­cred­ibly help­ful to wo­men over the years,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, who has been act­ive in de­fend­ing the or­gan­iz­a­tion. “The in­sult—I think that’s how wo­men feel, and ac­tu­ally the pub­lic.”

“I think it is,” she ad­ded when asked if she thought this is a win­ning is­sue for Demo­crats. “But I cer­tainly have not ap­proached it as a polit­ic­al is­sue. I be­lieve they have made a cal­cu­la­tion polit­ic­ally, that it’s good for them—what are they think­ing?”