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House budget bill funds Planned Parenthood, reduces UNFPA funds

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Update: The story now includes a comment from GOP leadership.

WASHINGTON, D.C., December 16, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) -- The House's new Speaker has unveiled a $1.67 trillion budget that fully funds Planned Parenthood for the next nine-and-a-half months.

The budget comes five months after a series of videos showed Planned Parenthood officials haggling over the price of unborn baby parts, as well as appearing to discuss illegal partial-birth abortions and illegal modifications to abortion.

While the House appears ready to pass the bill on Friday, a board member of the group that conducted the undercover video investigations said the funding shows "the corrupt, establishment Republicans are once again walking lockstep with the pro-abortion Democrats to give the criminal enterprise Planned Parenthood more money."

"Over the past six months, we have proven that Planned Parenthood routinely engages in gross criminal conduct," said Operation Rescue's Troy Newman. A founding board member of the Center for Medical Progress, Newman said that Planned Parenthood's "gross criminal conduct" includes "Profiting from the sale of fetal body parts, changing the abortion procedure to put their profits ahead of women's safety, and killing children that were born alive."

In September, Democratic insistence on funding America's largest abortion company -- which gets more than $500 million between state and federal programs -- nearly led to a partial government shutdown. A number of pro-life Members in the House and Senate insisted on shifting 80 percent of Planned Parenthood's federal funding to federally qualified community centers.

Medicaid reimbursements total approximately four of every five federal tax dollars sent to Planned Parenthood. The other 20 percent comes from Title X "family planning" programs.

However, a number of moderate Republicans in both chambers insisted on avoiding a fight. Just 20 of 54 Senate Republicans opposed funding Planned Parenthood in a bill that funded the government through December 11. In the House, 151 out of 246 Republicans opposed funding Planned Parenthood in the House's version of the same bill.

Short-term funding bills have kept the government running until this week, with passage of the omnibus expected on Friday.

In an e-mail to media outlets, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-WI, praised the bill because it "maintains important pro-life provisions, including the Hyde Amendment, and prohibits taxpayer funding for abortion," and bans "gene editing."

However, the Hyde Amendment does not ban all federal funding for abortions, because it allows funding for abortions in the cases of rape, incest, and life of the mother.

Pro-lifers have also expressed concern about the fungibility of funds provided to Planned Parenthood, as well as opposition to FDA-approved contraceptives that double as abortifacients -- the latter funded through Title X.

The bill does include two partial victories for pro-life advocates. The first is a seven percent reduction in the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) that was included over concerns of UNFPA's involvement in China's coercive One-Child Policy.

The second was a doubling of Sexual Risk Avoidance funding from $5 million to $10 million. The abstinence advocacy group Ascend praised the inclusion, saying in a statement that "pregnancy-prevention-only programs are not enough for our youth."

“We are encouraged that Congress is committed to reinforcing and amplifying the good decisions of the majority of youth," the statement continued.

The omnibus bill continued to fund Sexual Risk Reduction -- also known as "comprehensive sex education" -- programs, with $90 million allocated. Such programs typically involve promotion of contraceptives, acceptance and encouragement of teenage sexual activity, and abortion.

However, March for Life Action Vice President Tom McClusky said in a statement that the bill does not protect conscience rights for churches in California that the state is requiring to fund abortion.

"California churches will continue to be forced to pay for abortions through their own insurance, a violation of federal law," said McClusky. "With this spending bill, Congress shoulders the responsibility alongside the Obama Administration for this gross violation of our First Amendment rights. Ironically, the text of this bill came out on the 224th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights.”

A GOP leadership aide defended the House's dedication to defunding Planned Parenthood, telling LifeSiteNews that "the House of Representatives' Select Committee focused on protecting life is in the driver's seat on the House Republicans' effort."

Likewise, said the aide, "the House will again vote to defund Planned Parenthood when it takes up the recently-passed Senate reconciliation bill, which includes defunding."

However, Newman said that "Planned Parenthood should be wondering how they are going to make bail instead of getting more free government money."

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