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Measure to cut Planned Parenthood funding heads to Pa. Senate

HARRISBURG - A measure that would cut funding to Planned Parenthood is heading to the full Pennsylvania Senate after getting approved by a committee Wednesday.

The bill would prioritize spending on family planning services according to a list of categories. Its sponsor, Sen. John Eichelberger (R., Blair), said the purpose is to provide adequate health services for patients. But he acknowledged its effect would be to strip funding from Planned Parenthood because, he said, it provides fewer types of services than other health centers and clinics.

"We shouldn't have them in a system that they're not pulling their weight," Eichelberger said.

The Republican-controlled Senate Finance Committee approved the bill, 7-5.  Its chances of becoming law aren't great: Gov. Wolf has pledged to veto it.

In a statement, he called the legislation "nothing more than an ideologically driven attempt to disrupt health services for thousands of women in Pennsylvania." He said the organization provides health and welfare services to men and women, particularly in rural and under-served areas.

In Harrisburg, Democrats on the committee criticized the legislation.

"This is a reduction of health services in communities, not an expansion," said Sen. Vincent Hughes (D., Phila.).

Sari Stevens, executive director of Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates, said that in Harrisburg, a Planned Parenthood health center and another local health center refer patients to one another.

"Cutting out the gateway to that health-care system, which is our 32 health centers, is a really big deal," she said.