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To harm Planned Parenthood, Minnesota Republicans are willing to savage women's healthcare

Anti-abortion activists crowd Gov. Mark Dayton's block after an undercover video by the Center for Medical Progress references the existence of fetal tissue research in Minnesota.

Anti-abortion activists crowd Gov. Mark Dayton's block after an undercover video by the Center for Medical Progress references the existence of fetal tissue research in Minnesota.

A new bill being pushed by 37 Minnesota Republicans would strangle funding for preventative women's healthcare – stuff like breast exams, pap smears, and the pill.

Their real goal, of course, is to damage Planned Parenthood. And if that means making basic healthcare a whole lot worse, so be it.   

Currently, Planned Parenthood is the only clinic to receive direct federal family planning funding, known as Title X. The clinic uses the money to serve low-income and uninsured people at 15 of its Minnesota clinics. It also sends money out to 22 rural family-planning clinics across the state.

Some 45,000 patients go to clinics supported by Title X. And it the composes the sole source of medical funding for about 23,000 women statewide. None of the money can be used for abortions.  

Republicans want that sent to the Minnesota Department of Health instead. And their bill would ban the agency from transferring the money to abortion providers. Though the move wouldn't prevent a single abortion, it would likely prevent 23,000  women from receiving medical care. 

“The funny thing is, the funding they’re targeting isn’t ever used for abortion,” says Jen Aulwes, Planned Parenthood Minnesota spokeswoman. “This funding is required by law only to be used for STD testing, birth control mainly, preventative health screenings, things like that. That’s the irony of this. They’re trying to take away funding for abortion providers that is actually used for preventative healthcare.”

Patients Hanna Hockberger, Sydney Spreck and Sarah Legried are the masterminds behind Planned Parenthood's giant condom float at this year's Pride parade.

Patients Hanna Hockberger, Sydney Spreck and Sarah Legried are the masterminds behind Planned Parenthood's giant condom float at this year's Pride parade.

Federal law decrees that no taxpayer dollars can ever be used for abortion. The purpose of Title X is to actually reduce the rate of abortions by preventing unwanted pregnancies.

Targeting Planned Parenthood through Title X has never been attempted in Minnesota before, but the strategy has been sweeping the nation ever since the fraudulent video-sting against the abortion giant last summer. The video has long-since been discredited, but that hasn't stopped Republicans in Minnesota and  more than 15 other states from pretending it's legit.  

“What they’re trying to do is make it so that people who rely on Title X funding for contraceptives and can’t afford them otherwise won’t be able to get them at Planned Parenthood,” Aulwes says. “They’d have to go somewhere else, but there’s no way that the community health centers and other folks out there can absorb the patient load that Planned Parenthood services with that funding.”

The idea that other non-abortion clinics could take in Planned Parenthood's patients has been called "ludicrous" by the American Public Health Association