The biggest news story of the week was the potential shutdown of the federal government if Congress wasn’t able to reach a compromise on the budget. President Barack Obama signed a stop gap bill into law today to keep the government in action through next week until the budget deal for the rest of the fiscal year reached Friday night is finalized.
The hold-up and the threat of shutdown was directly tied to issues of abortion and, as a result, women’s health.
It appears the main abortion provisions Republicans sought were stripped out of the deal in exchange for deeper cuts in spending, including an effort to defund Planned Parenthood. However, a separate vote will be held on that issue next week, though Democrats are anticipated to defeat it. The compromise does, however, contain a provision that restricts abortion financing in Washington, D.C.
Though the focus of the debate is around Planned Parenthood’s abortion services, federal funds already can’t be used for abortions. As we’ve previously noted, only about 3 percent of its health services are abortion related. It provides family planning, cancer screenings, treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and other services for both men and women but particularly for low-income women. (For a complete breakdown of Planned Parenthood does, check out this chart from the Washington Post).
The fact that this became a major issue in holding up a budget compromise reflected the culmination of several months worth of Republican action on issues of abortion and women’s health that the Gender Report has highlighted in earlier posts.