U.S. Senate introduces bill to defund Planned Parenthood

The Senate GOP unveiled its long-anticipated health care bill Thursday, which halts Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood for one year and prohibits health plans from covering abortions beyond Hyde Amendment protections. The measure also eliminates the Obamacare mandate requiring individuals and employers to purchase health insurance, and cuts the expansion of Medicaid. However, qualifying health plans under the bill would cover exceptions for abortion, including abortions in cases of rape, incest, or if a woman’s life is in danger.

The Senate version of the health care bill provides tax credits based on income; the House version tied its tax credits to age.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he expects the bill to come to the floor for a vote as early as next week, after the Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost. The bill requires 50 votes to pass the Senate floor, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote. It’s uncertain if Hyde Amendment protections will be included in the final bill; however, the final version must defund Planned Parenthood and prohibit the use of taxpayer funds to pay for insurance that pays for abortions.

Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest abortion chain, committing over 320,000 abortions every year. The health care bill comes just weeks after Planned Parenthood released its latest annual report, which shows that health services have sharply declined while abortions have increased along with taxpayer funding.

The U.S. House passed its version of the bill in May.

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