Vice President Mike Pence just used his powers in the Senate to be the lone decider in whether or not women will have access to crucial healthcare coverage.
In a 51-50 vote, Senate Republicans — with a few members defecting to side with Democrats — just repealed an Obama-era regulation that puts states “on notice” with respect to funding Planned Parenthood health centers. The initial regulation stipulated that states that sought to deny Title X funding — which goes to groups like Planned Parenthood that provide low-income Americans with affordable family planning services — would be in violation of federal law.
The National Women’s Law Center broke down the harm that the latest decision by Vice President Pence and Senate Republicans would cause to low-income women in a recent blog post:
Breast exams—which were provided to over 1 million women nationally at Title X sites in 2015;
Other important confidential preventive care, including screenings for sexually transmitted infections (STIs)/HIV, and health education; and
Contraceptive care and counseling that helped women avoid 904,000 unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in 439,000 unplanned births in 2014.
The move to relieve states attempting to cut Title X grants to dry up Planned Parenthood’s funding comes on the heels of the Republicans’ embarrassing Trumpcare defeat last week, when President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan’s proposed healthcare overhaul didn’t even receive a vote in the heavily Republican House of Representatives. With Pence’s latest tiebreaker, Republicans will now no longer be 0-1 in fulfilling campaign promises related to taking away healthcare for low-income people.
This marks the second time in roughly two months that Pence has been called in to be a tiebreaker in the Senate, with the other time being for the confirmation of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos.
Kevin Wallace is a journalist with five years’ experience in print and digital media, and covers politics, media, and culture for the Resistance Report. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida.