Paul Ryan threatens to defund Planned Parenthood, sends guards after petitioners


As part of the package for rolling back the Affordable Care Act, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) has also moved to deny Medicaid reimbursement for Planned Parenthood clinics, effectively denying millions of low-income people access to basic care. And when Planned Parenthood petitioners showed up at the Capitol to deliver petitions from constituents, Ryan sent guards to escort them away from his office.

In the first week of the 115th Congress, House Speaker Paul Ryan is already pursuing a long-time conservative goal: Defunding Planned Parenthood. As part of the budget reconciliation package the House GOP is using to repeal the Affordable Care Act, Ryan's provisions strip Planned Parenthood of access to Medicaid reimbursement and federally distributed family planning funds.

This cruel move would cut off a main pipeline of funds for the non-profit health services organization, and would deny millions access to basic care, including many of the country's most marginalized people.

According to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the political arm of the organization, their petitioners were escorted from Ryan's office when they arrived to deliver petitions containing nearly 100,000 signatures opposing the defunding of the organization. The signed petitions were instead delivered to Ryan's office neighbor, Representative Gwen Moore (D-WI).

Many Democrats in Congress are outraged at Ryan for slipping Planned Parenthood defunding into the repeal. Minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said in a press conference, "We're not going back. We will stand our ground. We will fight that decision by the Speaker to defund Planned Parenthood."

In statements, Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) likewise reminded the GOP that "there was no mandate in this election to take away basic healthcare from 51% of the population," while Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) called the move an "extreme ideological proposal" and "a partisan assault on women's access to quality and affordable healthcare." And Alexandra De Luca, press secretary for EMILY's List, said that "these tricks are getting old."

Despite what some anti-choice politicians and voters may believe, defunding a major health organization will not magically end abortion in the United States. Indeed, it may just increase the demand, as people are denied access to contraception and to the kind of comprehensive sexual health education Planned Parenthood provides.

Fortunately, Ryan's ideological crusade is going to face harsh opposition — from elected Democrats in the halls of Congress to supporters of reproductive rights in every corner of the country.