Planned Parenthood brings 87K petitions to Paul Ryan

The group could lose hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding if a proposal from House Republican leaders gets approved.
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With Planned Parenthood's federal funding on the chopping block, supporters of the women's health service provider gathered tens of thousands of signatures to deliver to House Speaker Paul Ryan.

The organization says they gathered nearly 87,000 signed petitions, stating "I stand with Planned Parenthood" and urging the Wisconsin representative to not cut off the group's funding. When they arrived at Ryan's Washington D.C. Office, they were greeted by security guards who blocked delivery of the boxes of petitions.

The effort came in response to Ryan's comments Thursday, saying House Republicans are set to cut Planned Parenthood's federal funding as part of a repeal of the Affordable Care Act, CNN reported. An effort to do the same thing last year fell short.

How much funding is it?

What's at stake is hundreds of millions of dollars that Planned Parenthood gets via two federal programs: Title X funding (aimed at providing care for low-income or uninsured Americans), and reimbursements through Medicaid (which is also aimed at low-income Americans).

The group's 2014-15 report said it received about $553 million from "government health services grants and reimbursements," which is more than 40 percent of its revenue for that period. News reports put the number between $400 million and $500 million.

Why do they want to defund it?

The opposition to Planned Parenthood generally comes from abortion procedures, and concerns about how fetal tissue is handled.

That furor came to a head in 2015 after an anti-abortion group released videos purporting to show abortion providers offering to sell fetal tissue. Investigations turned up no wrongdoing, as Time pointed out, and the videos were criticized for being edited. (It is legal for abortion provider to donate the fetal tissue to researchers, if the woman consents to it – and it can charge to cover costs, but can not make a profit on it, MSNBC says.)

In addition, as NPR explains, the federal funds Planned Parenthood gets through Title X can not be used to fund abortions. And any Medicaid funds can only be used in specific cases, such as rape, incest, or to protect the mother's life.

Planned Parenthood says it's a small fraction of its services

But Planned Parenthood has long said abortions make up a small amount of the health services it provides – according to its 2014-15 annual report, the organization performed about 323,399 abortion procedures over the course of a year, about 3 percent of all its services.

Comparatively, more than 635,000 pap tests and breast exams were performed; more than 930,000 emergency contraception kits were provided to people; and there were more than 4.2 million tests or treatments done for sexually transmitted diseases.

The group also says repealing the Affordable Care Act would amount to 55 million women around the country losing out on no-copay preventative care, such as birth control.

What will happen?

Hard to say right now.

President-elect Donald Trump has been inconsistent publicly. He's repeatedly said he’d look to appoint an anti-abortion justice to the Supreme Court, and said groups that do abortions shouldn’t get tax money (even though he used to support abortion choices). But he’s also lauded Planned Parenthood and said they do “wonderful things” for women’s health.

Also, as CNN points out, even though Republicans control the House and Senate and the presidency, they might not have enough support for a Planned Parenthood defunding proposal to actually get it through.

That's because in the Senate, the GOP has 52 members – and two of them are pro-choice, meaning it's not clear if they'd vote for an Affordable Care Act repeal if it includes the Planned Parenthood measure. Then there's Sen. Rand Paul, who said he won't vote for the current Affordable Care Act repeal bill for budgetary reasons, CNN reports.

If they are against it, that'd leave only 49 "Yea" votes – short of the 50 needed to pass.

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