WASHINGTON, D.C., May 4, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. House voted 217 to 213 to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal Obamacare today, sending its replacement, “TrumpCare,” to the Senate.
The American Healthcare Act (AHCA) strips Planned Parenthood of most of its federal funding for the next year.
The AHCA is a type of bill that only needs 51, rather than 60, Senate votes to pass. This type of bill, passed through a process called budget “reconciliation,” must be primarily budget-related. Pro-life groups have expressed confidence that the language in the AHCA will hold up under the budget-related scrutiny it will face in the Senate.
The House was originally supposed to vote on TrumpCare on March 24, but Republican leadership had to pull the bill after many conservatives opposed it. They objected to the bill because it didn't go far enough to repeal Obamacare.
Pro-life groups were initially hesitant to fully support the original ACHA over concerns that the healthcare tax credits it provides people could be used to fund abortion.
But it went through many revisions that provided pro-lifers with more reassurance.
The revised AHCA gives insurance companies the freedom to decide if they want to cover “essential benefits” like maternity care, which critics of Obamacare point out are “essential” for only half the population.
For one year, the AHCA eliminates more than $390 million (over 86%) of over $450 million in annual federal funding to Planned Parenthood. This is identical to a provision that was ruled in compliance with strict Senate rules in 2015, making it unlikely the Senate can throw this section out on a technicality that it's not budget-related enough.
Rep. Neal Dunn, R-FL, praised the bill for defunding Planned Parenthood in his floor speech supporting the AHCA.
The AHCA redirects funding to community health centers rather than Planned Parenthood abortion facilities. Community health centers, which outnumber Planned Parenthood facilities 20 to 1, offer comprehensive, non-violent healthcare.
The AHCA “codifies” an uncompassionate “worldview,” Rep. Joe Kennedy, D-MA, said in his floor speech blasting the bill. He implied it doesn't protect the “weak.”
Pro-abortion Rep. Debbie Dingell, D-MI, cited “the nuns” who taught her and “the Bible” in her speech against the bill. Pro-abortion Minority Leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-CA, asked her colleagues to be “prayerful” about their votes for the bill. She quoted anti-Trumpcare statements from pro-abortion Sister Simone Campbell and the leftist Catholic Health Association.
Pelosi also quoted a remark from Pope Francis on the importance of healthcare.
Rep. Charlie Crist, D-FL, mentioned Planned Parenthood's defunding by name in his criticism of the bill.
Majority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-CA, mentioned the bill's pro-life aspects as positive as he advocated for the bill.
The Family Research Council (FRC) supported the revised AHCA legislation because “it provides the best path forward to re-establish the fundamental federal policy that abortion is not health care,” FRC President Tony Perkins said.
National Right to Life and the Catholic Medical Association also supported the revised bill.
“AHCA repeals the Obamacare premium tax credits, which subsidize abortion on demand,” said Perkins. “AHCA would also eliminate the Obamacare employer and individual mandate penalties, thereby allowing employers or individuals to forgo offering or purchasing coverage if doing so violates their conscience.”
Perkins said if the Senate removes the pro-life provisions from the AHCA, it will not support the bill.
Dawn Laguens, the Executive Vice President of Planned Parenthood, wrote in an email to supporters that the abortion company believes “policy tweaks and a new coat of paint have only made Paul Ryan's disastrous health care repeal bill worse.” Laguens called the bill redirecting money from Planned Parenthood abortion facilities to comprehensive women's health clinics “immoral and dangerous.”