March protests looming Planned Parenthood funding end

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PG VIDEO: PLANNED PARENTHOOD RALLY

More than 100 people took to the streets Downtown today to protest a national budget amendment that would eliminate all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, the family planning and reproductive health services group.

Looking to curb federal spending, House Republicans last week, led by anti-abortion activist Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., approved the amendment by a 240-185 vote. The spending measure would halt all federal funds for Planned Parenthood, which provides cancer screenings, blood pressure tests, reproductive exams and HIV/AIDS testing and counseling, among other services, in addition abortions.

If the amendment survives in the Senate, it would mean a nearly one-third budget cut for the seven Planned Parenthood centers in the region, said Kim Evert, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania.

"It will actually increase the number of people seeking abortions if they don't have access to family planning services," she said. "This does nothing more than to create a greater need for abortion in our community instead of helping to prevent unintended pregnancies."

Planned Parenthood centers in Western Pennsylvania annually receive $210,000 in federal funding through Title X, a federal grant program that provides family planning and reproductive health services for low-income individuals.

Since this money is not permitted to fund abortion services, it is spent on other family planning programming, such as birth control, sexually transmitted infection treatment and screening and gynecological exams, she said.

At the rally, women and men with pink Planned Parenthood T-shirts, pins and homemade signs marched from the Planned Parenthood offices on Liberty Avenue to the Pittsburgh office of U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., to deliver petitions urging him to vote in opposition to the proposed cuts.

More details in tomorrow's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Julie Percha: jpercha@post-gazette.com or 412-263-4903.


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