WASHINGTON -- The Planned Parenthood Federation of America has joined a growing list of civil rights organizations, women's rights groups, domestic violence workers and faith-based organizations in strong opposition to the House GOP's version of the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization.
Planned Parenthood released a statement on Tuesday saying that it "strongly opposes" the House measure.
"There are few pieces of legislation that have delivered as greatly on their promise as the Violence Against Women Act," said Cecile Richards, president of the health services provider. "However, instead of seeking to expand protections, this new House bill puts victims of domestic violence in greater danger and excludes vulnerable populations from critical protections."
After the Senate passed a bipartisan bill that included protections for unauthorized immigrant, Native American and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender victims of domestic violence, House Republicans wrote a bill that not only strips out those provisions, but also rolls back existing confidentiality protections for immigrant women who have been abused. The House version of the bill passed out of the Judiciary Committee on party lines last week and is scheduled for a full House vote on Wednesday.
Richards said Planned Parenthood is particularly concerned about the removal of the confidentiality protections. Under current law, an immigrant woman who has been abused by her American husband can apply for legal status in her own right without her husband's knowledge, in order to escape the marriage without being deported. The GOP version of VAWA strips out that measure so that the state could notify the suspected abuser that his wife was seeking citizenship, which Republicans lawmakers argue will help protect anti-domestic violence programs from immigration fraud.
"As we've seen all too clearly over the past 18 months, women still face gender discrimination in this country," said Richards, referring to the ongoing state and federal battles over women's health and reproductive rights. "This House bill does not advance protections against discrimination, but would further stigmatize particular populations. Planned Parenthood firmly stands against this bill and urges the House to pass the bipartisan Senate reauthorization instead."