North Carolina's Republican-controlled state legislature voted Monday night to override Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue's veto of a state budget that strips money from Planned Parenthood.
The same lawmakers overrode Perdue's veto and moved to defund Planned Parenthood last year, but a judge blocked the provision, arguing that a state can't single out a particular health provider. This time around, lawmakers found a way to sidestep legal challenges by not specifically naming Planned Parenthood in the budget. Instead, the bill prevents the state's Health and Human Services department from contracting with "private providers" of family planning services -- effectively, but not explicitly, singling out Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, one of the state's two Planned Parenthood providers, estimates that it will lose $200,000 as a result of the new budget. Because no state money is used for abortion services, the funding cuts will affect the clinic's ability to provide affordable birth control, cancer screenings, pap smears and other services for low-income women in the state.
"If we aren't able to figure something out and replace this funding, this will affect the price and availability of services and prescription drugs for patients," Paige Johnson, a spokesperson for PPCNC, told The Huffington Post. "We won't be able to provide the walk-in care we currently provide."
The new budget bill redirects $343,000 in state family planning funding from private family planning providers to county health departments, effective July 1, 2012, because private providers -- namely, Planned Parenthood -- also offer abortions.
Johnson said it was unclear whether the judge's 2011 injunction against the defunding provision would apply to the new budget, now that it doesn't specifically name Planned Parenthood.
"We're looking at all legal options," she said.
Below, a playlist to describe the war on women:
Eric Fehrnstrom, senior campaign adviser for Mitt Romney, said on Sunday that issues pertaining to women's reproductive rights, such as abortion and birth control, were "shiny objects" meant to distract voters from the real issues. "Mitt Romney is pro-life," he told ABC's George Stephanopoulos. "He'll govern as a pro-life president, but you're going to see the Democrats use all sorts of shiny objects to distract people's attention from the Obama performance on the economy. This is not a social issue election."
The Senate will vote Thursday on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would expand and strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and make it illegal for employers to punish women for bringing up pay disparity issues. Dana Perino, a Fox News contributor and former press secretary for President George W. Bush, called the equal pay issue "a distraction" from the country's real financial problems last week. "Well, it's just yet another distraction of dealing with the major financial issues that the country should be dealing with," Perino said. "This is not a job creator."
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), whose home state's legislature recently defunded Planned Parenthood and voted to pass a bill that would allow employers to deny women birth control coverage, delivered a floor speech in which he insisted that the war on women is something imaginary for Democrats to "sputter about." "My friends, this supposed 'War on Women' or the use of similarly outlandish rhetoric by partisan operatives has two purposes, and both are purely political in their purpose and effect: The first is to distract citizens from real issues that really matter and the second is to give talking heads something to sputter about when they appear on cable television," he said.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus tried to trivialize concerns about the legislative "war on women" by comparing it to a "war on caterpillars." "If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we'd have problems with caterpillars," Priebus said in an April interview on Bloomberg Television. "It's a fiction."
Missouri U.S. Senate candidate Sarah Steelman (R) took heat from her opponents in May when she contended that Democratic lawmakers' focus on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act was "a distraction" from the issues they should be dealing with instead. "I think it's unfortunate that the Democrats have made a political football out of this thing, which I think is what they keep doing to distract from real problems that are facing our nation," she said in an interview with St. Louis Public Radio.
South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley (R) defended the Republican Party in April for going after insurance coverage for contraception by arguing that women don't actually care about contraception. "Women don't care about contraception," she said on ABC's The View. "They care about jobs and the economy and raising their families and all those other things."