Threats to Planned Parenthood just got a whole lot more real.

Today, Mike Pence was the tie-breaking vote on a bill to allow states to withhold Title X funds from Planned Parenthood.

Title X is a grant that subsidizes preventative and family planning services for low-income Americans, and accounts for $70 million of Planned Parenthood’s $450 million federal funds. This is a hefty chunk, and allows the organization to serve more than 5 million low-income Americans per year.  Title X funds, like ALL federal funds, CANNOT be used to pay for abortion services.

Here is why this vote is bad:

  • Planned Parenthood is the largest reproductive health care provider in America and serves over 2.5 million people every year.
  • While this only threatens about 10% of Planned Parenthood federal funds, it’s a dangerous first step. Completely defunding Planned Parenthood would cost 650,000 women their access to health care services like cancer screenings, treatment for sexually transmitted diseases, testing, pregnancy care, and contraceptive education and prescription.
  • 73% of Planned Parenthood clinics are located in rural or medically underserved areas. So stripping them of their funding would force clinic closures in areas where women have no other alternatives for care.
  • If low-income women lose access to contraceptives and pregnancy counseling, CBO estimates there will be thousands of unwanted births. Defunding Planned Parenthood completely would cost the government $130 million over ten years due to the costs associated with these pregnancies covered by Medicaid.
  • 3/4 of Americans support funding for Planned Parenthood. But why should public opinion direct our governing body?
  • While this bill does not defund Planned Parenthood directly, it does allow states to use their discretion for federal funds, and 11 states have already passed measures to block Title X funds from Planned Parenthood because the organization’s provides abortion services.
  • Because these are competitive grants, facilities and clinics have to earn them. So even if Planned Parenthood clinics administer better care than community health centers, politicians are denying them funding anyway. In other words, satisfying their own religious beliefs at the expense of their constituent’s health care quality.

To summarize: Despite the measurable health and economic benefits to Planned Parenthood, and despite broad public support and dependence on its services, the men who run our country have decided it’s not worth funding.

This is more than a women’s rights issue, or an economic issue, or a health care issue—though it is all of those things. This is a human rights issue.

So, to our politicians that are telling us women don’t deserve health care: I stand with Planned Parenthood and I’m willing to bet millions of other Americans do too.

Here’s what we can do:

To make sure your state doesn’t do anything stupid:

  • Write, write, write! This time, write your state reps! Mike Pence and the rest of the Senate has left it up to the individual states, so FLOOD your officials’ inboxes!
  • Show up to their town halls. Come with stories about women whose care will be taken away and facts about the kind of health care crisis this will launch. I honestly don’t care what you do—just show up.

To support Planned Parenthood:

  • Donate—I am a broke millennial so I know this is a tough one.
  • If you can’t show your support financially, write a letter to your local clinic telling them that you appreciate their work and that their community supports them.
  • Contact Mike Pence—I think this one is more cathartic than anything else but—whatever helps!
  • If you have the time, this website will set you up with a volunteer opportunity at a local clinic.
  • If you’re more *politically active* get involved with their Action Fund.
  • Have a spare afternoon and still have an itch to support Planned Parenthood? Be a clinic defender and escort patients to clinics swarmed by protests.
  • Sign up for E-mail updates to stay in the loop!

Check out this website for more information and to tell Congress that you stand with Planned Parenthood.

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