House Votes To Cut Off Federal Funds To Planned Parenthood

In a  largely partisan vote, the House voted today to end all federal funding for Planned Parenthood:

The House just approved Rep. Mike Pence’s amendment to cut off funding to Planned Parenthood, checking off a hot-button social issue even as it set up a bigger showdown over defunding the health care law.

The vote was 240-185 with 11 Democrats voting for the amendment, and seven Republicans voting against. One member voted present. A group of Republicans on the floor applauded when the vote hit 218.

That amendment managed to suck up three hours of often emotional debate time Thursday night, which is a big part of the reason the health care law defunding votes got pushed into today.

Pence, of Indiana, touched off a vicious back-and-forth Thursday night in which Republicans insisted the organization is too aggressive about performing abortions and several Democrats charged that the GOP was waging a “war on women.”

Pence said the amendment captures a rough public consensus that they accept legal abortions, but don’t want to pay for them.

He did get House Majority Leader Eric Cantor to weigh in on his side, declaring, “The time has come to respect the wishes of the majority of Americans who adamantly oppose using taxpayer dollars for abortions.”

Democratic Rep. Jerry Nadler called the amendment a “bill of attainder”- saying it was unconstitutional as such because the legislation was targeting a specific group.

“[An attainder is] a legislative enacted penalty, in this case no funding, directed at an identifiable person or organization to punish them for something. Article I Section 9 says ‘no bill of attainder or ex post facto should be passed.’ Fundamental foundation of constitutional law. If Planned Parenthood or anyone else is doing terrible things and ought to be punished, that’s up to the courts,” said the California congressman.

The Bill of Attainder argument was raised by ACORN when Congress acted to take away its federal funding in 2009. and that argument was ultimately rejected by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals. I would suggest that any similar effort by Planned Parenthood would be similarly unsuccessful.

Of course, it may never get to that stage. The Continuing Resolution that this amendment is attached to still has to make its way through the Senate. and President Obama has already said he would veto the House’s version of the CR in its current form for reasons having nothing to do with Planned Parenthood. Were I a betting man. I would bet that this amendment ends up getting pulled from the final version of the bill.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. jwest says:

    Margaret Sanger, founder of Planned Parenthood, was a proponent of negative eugenics, which only sought to eliminate the “undesirables” in society. According to her definition of the term, Planned Parenthood has been largely successful.

    To her credit, Sanger stopped short of positive eugenics and seemed to be opposed to the active gassing of the “unfit”.

    With such a proud heritage, how could congress vote to defund this organization?

  2. It’s obvious what this is: a play to the religious right on the grounds of “getting the budget under control”.

    Tell ‘ya what, right wingers: you vote to reduce spending and cut other pork on your side of the fence, and I’ll take you seriously on PP. I know you won’t do that collectively.

  3. legion says:

    For a group that keeps claiming it’s not the party of rich white guys, they’ve pretty much alienated blacks, gays, latinos, and now women… Mighty big tent ya got there…

  4. Ben Wolf says:

    The U.S. Military chose Savannah, Georgia and Avon Park, Florida for repeated Army bio-weapons experiments in 1956 and 1957. Army CBW researchers released millions of mosquitoes on the two towns in order to test the ability of insects to carry and deliver yellow fever and dengue fever. Hundreds of residents fell ill, suffering from fevers, respiratory distress, stillbirths, encephalitis and typhoid. Army researchers disguised themselves as public health workers in order photograph and test the victims.

    With such a proud heritage, how could Congress continue to fund this organization?

  5. mantis says:

    Once again, Republicans show their goal is to make sure more Americans suffer, go broke, and die early.

  6. matt says:

    I find this amusing considering that a lot of planned parenthood sites don’t even have abortion services. The only thing people get at my local PLanned Parenthood are contraceptives and doctor referrals for pregnancies intended to be carried to term. My fiancee gets her pills there and if they closed I’m not even sure where we could get them…

  7. matt says:

    Jwest : Gasp some of the founders owned slaves and did some illegal things (revolting certainly qualifies) so according to your logic we are a violent country that supports the brutal enslavement of our fellow humans while refusing to obey laws…