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State planned Parenthood funds in peril

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By Clara Ritger
Tuesday, May 22, 2012, 7:27 p.m.

HARRISBURG - A Republican lawmaker plans to introduce legislation today that would prohibit Planned Parenthood and other clinics that provide abortion services from receiving any public funding.

State Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Cranberry, will sponsor the Whole Woman's Health Funding Priority Act, a bill that would mirror legislation passed in nine other states.

No figure was available on public money provided for family planning in Pennsylvania.

Sari Stevens, executive director at Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, said the organization served 120,000 women last year, providing cervical cancer screenings, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, consulting on birth control and family planning, and routine annual exams. Abortion services constitute 5 percent of its health care offering.

"Our position is that politics shouldn't interfere with where a woman gets her breast cancer screening and the fact that this will affect tens of thousands of Pennsylvania women makes it a major political liability in an election year," Stevens said.

Metcalfe could not be reached for comment.

Arizona enacted the Whole Woman's Health Funding Priority Act on May 4, and Planned Parenthood is considering litigation. Six other states face lawsuits from Planned Parenthood or the Obama administration.

"What you have is a cookie-cutter approach with feel-good names," said Rep. Dan Frankel, D-Squirrel Hill, who opposes Metcalfe's bill.

Chuck Donovan, president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, which provides research support for the pro-life group, Susan B. Anthony List, supports legislation like Metcalfe's. He said the goal is to upgrade local health care through enhanced support for federally qualified clinics.

"The legislation is nonpartisan," he said. "It makes sure taxpayer dollars aren't channeled into programs that confuse abortion with family planning."

Christopher Borick, professor of political science at Muhlenberg College, said he doesn't think the legislation will get very far in Pennsylvania.

"Anytime you have controversial legislation like this, you're going to see a low likelihood of it moving very far because people don't want to touch it in an election year. This will help the Democrats build their narrative that the Republican Party is averse to women's rights."

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