Since taking control of the U.S. House of Representatives last month, Republicans have introduced several major anti-abortion bills that women's rights activists say could place severe limitations on access not only to abortion, but complete reproductive health and family planning services.
On the front lines of the battle to stop the legislation is Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, which provides family planning, contraception and abortion services at more than 800 clinics and health centers across the U.S. serving more than three million patients a year. Her organization is targeted in the legislation and is at risk for losing federal funding, even though Planned Parenthood says no federal dollars are used to fund its abortion services.
"The House leadership in Congress has basically just declared war on women, really from day one," Richards said in an interview with Democracy Now! Feb. 16.
The three bills include:
-"No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act" (H.R. 3) would cut off public funds for abortions.
-"Protect Life Act" (H.R. 358) would prohibit federal funds from being used to cover any part of the costs of any health plan that includes coverage of abortion services under the Affordable Care Act.
-"Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act" (H.R. 217) would deny federal family planning funds to any organizations that perform abortions, regardless of whether or not the organization uses that federal money for abortions.
"The most ridiculous part about it is that, for Congressman [Mike] Pence and the others who are proposing these bills, Planned Parenthood does more to prevent unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion than any organization in America," Richards says.
"Now they're basically trying to end family planning and access to birth control in America," Richards says. "The Republican budget that came out basically gets rid of the nation's family planning program. And as well, we expect in the next day or two, with the support of the Speaker [John Boehner], there will be an amendment to basically end all federal funds going to Planned Parenthood, including funds that are used for basic birth control, cancer screenings and preventive care for more than three million people every year."
"This is not what the American people voted for, and I think there's going to be an enormous political backlash, which we're already beginning to see at Planned Parenthood," Richard says, Folks coming into our clinics and saying, "I cannot believe I've just heard that the U.S. House of Representatives is trying to shut down Planned Parenthood."