When it comes to protecting Planned Parenthood's funding and reproductive rights in general, Congress is usually split down party lines. Although GOP leaders continue proposing bills that would make it more difficult for women to access health care, there is a limited number of Republicans who support reproductive rights when voting in Congress.
Of course, there are always politicians who say one thing and do another — such as Republican Sen. Dean Heller, who did a quick 180 when explaining how he feels about defunding Planned Parenthood this week.
While speaking to his Nevada constituents at a town hall meeting Monday, he vowed to "protect Planned Parenthood," saying, "I have no problems with federal funding for Planned Parenthood." But the following day, his spokeswoman, Megan Taylor, told Axios, "He is opposed to providing federal funding to any organization that performs abortions and is supported by taxpayers' dollars; he has a long record that reflects his position." Which is it, Dean? Based on his voting record, it seems Sen. Heller leans more toward defunding Planned Parenthood than protecting it.
"18,000 Nevadans depend on Planned Parenthood for preventive health care and nearly 6 in 10 Nevadans support Planned Parenthood," Dawn Laguens, Planned Parenthood Action Fund executive vice president, said in a statement provided to Refinery29. "Senator Heller can expect to continue to hear from his constituents about the important role Planned Parenthood plays in providing care to Nevadans."
Unlike Sen. Heller, there are surprisingly a few Republicans in Congress who do vote in favor of Planned Parenthood and protecting women's health care.
Sen. Susan Collins
The Maine Republican was one of only two GOP senators who voted against the measure President Trump signed into law April 13, which gave states permission to withhold federal Title X family planning funds from health clinics that perform abortions. Because two GOP members split from the party, Vice President Mike Pence had to act as a tie breaker in order for the bill to pass at the Senate level. Collins was also one of three Senate Republicans to back a proposed amendment to a 2015 Obamacare repeal bill which would have kept federal funding for Planned Parenthood intact. She was also one of the two Republicans who voted against a 20-week abortion ban in 2015.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski
Alaskan Sen. Murkowski joined Sen. Collins in opposing defunding Planned Parenthood both through Title X programs and the Obamacare repeal bill.
In an interview with Alaska Dispatch News, Murkowski said repealing the Obama administration's rule prohibiting states from withholding Title X money from certain clinics allows states to "further limit access to care for women, and I think that that's taking us backwards, so I voted against it."
Sen. Mark Kirk
Back in 2015 when Collins and Murkowski were working to stop the rest of the GOP from defunding Planned Parenthood while trying to repeal Obamacare, Sen. Mark Kirk from Iowa also ditched the rest of the party to join them. Before that, Kirk voted against a bill aimed specifically at banning abortion at 20 weeks. In 2014, Sen. Kirk also supported an appropriations bill that would expand women's access to health care and was applauded by Planned Parenthood.
These three senators repeatedly stand up to their party to protect women's reproductive rights, proving that the GOP can't even get full support from its own politicians when attacking women's health care access.
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