Planned Parenthood Defunding Intensifies Budget Faceoff

The headline on the right-wing CNS News blares, "Abortion, Environmental Regulation are Priorities for Obama in Seeking Budget Compromise." Not quite. So what did the president say yesterday in his press conference about the budget standoff?

As I said, there can be some negotiations about composition. What we can't be doing is using last year's budget process to have arguments about abortion; to have arguments about the Environmental Protection Agency; to try to use this budget negotiation as a vehicle for every ideological or political difference between the two parties. That's what the legislature is for, is to have those arguments, but not stuff it all into one budget bill.

Really, the only certainty apparent in the statement is that Obama doesn't want to have these debates now, which is not the same as guaranteeing that he won't sign a budget that defunds Planned Parenthood and all of the clinics covered under Title X.

Behind the scenes may look different, as Politico reported last week that House Majority Leader John Boehner "has told White House officials that his caucus won't agree to strip out the provisions — which are red meat for the party's conservative base — while Obama aides are equally adamant about removing the riders." In addition to the Pence amendment, contested riders include defunding NPR and environmental protection programs.

The Democratic-controlled Senate is the other possible barrier to Boehner's far-right caucus getting its way. Majority Leader Harry Reid has said, "We're happy to look at the policy riders. There aren't many of them that excite me. But we're willing to look at them. In fact, we've already started looking at some of the policy riders." Chuck Schumer, the third-ranking Democrat in the Senate, has said that the rider defunding Planned Parenthood is a "dealbreaker." (He spoke at the New York rally for Planned Parenthood.)

The anti-choice Susan B. Anthony group announced Monday that all of the potential Republican presidential candidates, including Sarah Palin and Mike Huckabee, support defunding Planned Parenthood. (May their opinions remain practically irrelevant.)

Republicans, said Nancy Pelosi last week, need "a lesson in the birds and the bees," adding, "If you don't want to terminate a pregnancy, you might want to prevent it. Family planning funding? People really get this. Does that give you any picture of how insulting their mentality is?"

Never you worry; the country is full of alternatives to Planned Parenthood. Oh wait — here's a report from RH Reality Check in which Andrea Grimes, who wrote here about her brush with cervical cancer, tries, and fails, to find an alternative for an uninsured person. Never mind unintended pregnancies; with a few exceptions, Republicans don't give a shit if you get screened for cancer, either.

Tomorrow, Planned Parenthood itself is sending busloads of activists for a day of rallying and lobbying ahead of the final day before a potential shutdown, Friday. You can also call your representatives here.

Abortion, Environmental Regulation Are Priorities For Obama In Seeking Budget Compromise [CNS News]
All Those Alternatives to Planned Parenthood? In Texas, At Least, They Don't Exist [RH Reality Check]
Related: Budget Battle Faces Hurdle Beyond Price Tag [NYT]
Pelosi, Speier Speak At Abortion Rights Fundraiser [SF Chronicle]
Democrats Pessimistic About Avoiding Shutdown [Politico]
Freshmen Take Aim At Harry Reid [Politico]