June 08, 2017
U.S. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, the "country’s most prominent pro-life Democrat," wants his constituents to know why that distinction doesn't bar him from supporting Planned Parenthood.
In an op-ed for the Huffington Post published Wednesday, Casey, who is up for re-election in 2018, tried to destigmatize the health care provider, which many congressional Republicans say should be cut off from federal funds.
"I am a pro-life Democrat," Casey wrote. "I believe we must do everything we can to reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and abortions in this country, including increasing access to contraception and helping pregnant women before and after birth by supporting Medicaid, WIC and other critical programs."
Defunding the nonprofit has long been a rallying cry of anti-abortion Republicans because it provides abortion services, even though no government funds are allowed to go toward abortion.
In House Republicans' American Health Care Act, which passed by a narrow margin, a provision blocks Medicaid funds from going to Planned Parenthood for a year. The legislation faces a tough sell in the Senate, however, where the GOP holds a slim majority and two of its own are pro-abortion rights.
Casey argued that even opponents of abortion should support Planned Parenthood, citing reports that show teen pregnancy and abortions are on a downward trend and attributing the success to access to contraceptive services that the organization provides. (Anti-abortion groups have argued the decrease in nationwide abortions can be ascribed to state-level restrictions.)
"The fact is, Planned Parenthood prevents unintended pregnancies and reduces abortions," Casey wrote. "Blocking access to care at Planned Parenthood could have the exact opposite effect.
"By increasing access to all forms of contraception and high-quality contraceptive counseling, Planned Parenthood enables women to choose the methods that work best for their bodies and lifestyles."
Casey said that the Republicans' hopes to defund Planned Parenthood would put progress at "risk," and that the real-life consequences of the move would be "devastating."
Bob Salera, spokesperson for the campaign committee of Senate Republicans, said Casey's position puts him in danger for 2018 and cited the fervent anti-abortion stance of his late father, former Pennsylvania Gov. Bob Casey.
“It is astonishing how quickly Bob Casey abandoned his father’s moderate, pro-life legacy to fall in line with the liberal base,” Salera said.