Manchin and Collins Team Up for Alternative to Defunding Planned Parenthood

Moderates on both sides of the aisle are working together to craft legislation that wouldn’t just stop Planned Parenthood funding cold turkey.

WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 17: Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) talks to reporters before heading to a Senate Democratic policy luncheon, on Capitol Hill, September 17, 2013 in Washington, DC. Manchin discussed gun control issues with reporters in light of the Navy Yard shootings in Washington yesterday. 
National Journal
July 30, 2015, 9:31 a.m.

Not every Re­pub­lic­an is ready to flat-out de­fund Planned Par­ent­hood.

As lead­er­ship paves the way for a vote to cut off money to the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s clin­ics around the coun­try, Sens. Joe Manchin, a Demo­crat, and Susan Collins, a Re­pub­lic­an, are work­ing quickly to ham­mer out a bi­par­tis­an com­prom­ise that would avoid de­fund­ing the or­gan­iz­a­tion out­right. Wheth­er their bill would even have sup­port of lead­er­ship, however, is an open ques­tion.

The idea is to find a middle ground between tak­ing away all of the money al­loc­ated to Planned Par­ent­hood and en­sur­ing that wo­men’s health care, from birth-con­trol con­sulta­tions to routine checkups, is still covered.

(RE­LATED: The Sen­ate’s Bid to De­fund Planned Par­ent­hood Is Just Get­ting Star­ted)

Collins says she was “hor­ri­fied” and “troubled” by videos that pur­port to de­pict Planned Par­ent­hood health care pro­viders dis­cuss­ing the selling of fetal tis­sue, but she wor­ries that cut­ting off the flow of fund­ing to the or­gan­iz­a­tion could have un­in­ten­ded con­sequences for wo­men’s health. As it cur­rently stands, Planned Par­ent­hood is not al­lowed to use fed­er­al fund­ing for abor­tion ser­vices. In­stead, the money in ques­tion goes dir­ectly to oth­er func­tions of the or­gan­iz­a­tion, from health screen­ings to fam­ily plan­ning.

“I re­cog­nize that most Planned Par­ent­hood clin­ics do not en­gage in the pro­cure­ment of fetal tis­sue and con­cen­trate on provid­ing well-wo­men ser­vices, do­ing fam­ily plan­ning, provid­ing can­cer screen­ings,” Collins said. “Cut­ting off fam­ily-plan­ning fund­ing for Planned Par­ent­hood across the board would cause wo­men to lose their health care pro­vider. … There is no sys­tem in place to ac­com­mod­ate the screen­ings and the needs of mil­lions of Amer­ic­an wo­men who rely on Planned Par­ent­hood.”

Collins says that she would rather fo­cus de­fund­ing ef­forts on those clin­ics that do en­gage in fetal-tis­sue pro­cure­ment.

(RE­LATED: Why a Court Blocked a New Anti-Planned Par­ent­hood Video)

Re­pub­lic­an Sen. Joni Ernst says her le­gis­la­tion, which would cut off all the or­gan­iz­a­tion’s fund­ing, would re­in­vest money that was once dir­ec­ted to Planned Par­ent­hood in­to oth­er com­munity clin­ics, but it is un­clear what ser­vices would be provided un­der the new mod­el.

Manchin says he has a “hard time” with simply cut­ting off fund­ing to Planned Par­ent­hood, but he agrees the video foot­age is “very dis­turb­ing.”

“If they are guilty of what they are ac­cused of, they have ser­i­ous prob­lems,” Manchin said. He ad­ded that fur­ther in­vest­ig­a­tions were needed.

Collins and Manchin have not talked with the Re­pub­lic­an lead­er­ship about their plan, which they hope to re­lease by Thursday even­ing. Mean­while, Ernst’s bill is on the top of the list for le­gis­la­tion to be voted on next week.

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