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Sen Daines' Support For Healthcare Bill Hinges On De-funding Planned Parenthood

Sen. Steve Daines.
Courtesy photo

Montana’s Republican U.S. Senator says that while he has not yet decided if he’ll support the Senate health care bill, one issue would be deal breaker for him.

As written, the Senate health care bill de-funds Planned Parenthood for one year.

And that’s just fine with Montana’s Republican and pro-life U.S. Senator Steve Daines:        
“Yes. Planned Parenthood is the leading provider of abortions in the United States," Daines says.

Daines says there are 17 federally funded community health clinics in Montana and five Planned Parenthood clinics:

"So think about this. We’re going to take $400-plus million and move it from the Planned Parenthood clinic to community health clinics. In Montana there are three times more community health clinics – more than that – as Planned Parenthood. This actually provides better access and better accessibility for women in Montana because we’re moving it to community health centers."

Two Republican Senators, Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski and Maine’s Susan Collins, have suggested they’ll introduce amendments to strip out the Planned Parenthood de-funding provision.

Edward O'Brien: So if that [Planned Parenthood] funding was restored, you’d vote against the bill?

Steve Daines: "I would."

Planned Parenthood of Montana CEO Martha Stahl says the organization annually serves about 15,000 patients in Billings, Great Falls, Missoula and Helena, with about a quarter of them using Medicaid to cover expenses:

"Our patients don’t come to us to make a political statement," Stahl says. "They come to Planned Parenthood because they trust the care they get at our health centers."

Stahl says Montana’s medical safety net is already running close to capacity.
"So we need all of those providers. Those community health centers offer wonderful care. They provide some of the same services that we provide, but we need all of the strings in that safety net to make sure that low income Montanans are getting the care they need and deserve," Stahl says.

It’s not known yet if the provision to strip out federal funding for Planned Parenthood in the Senate health care bill will meet Senate rules.

Edward O’Brien first landed at Montana Public Radio three decades ago as a news intern while attending the UM School of Journalism. He covers a wide range of stories from around the state.  
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