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Government avoids shutdown, but Planned Parenthood debate isn't - KSBY.com | San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara Area News

Government avoids shutdown, but Planned Parenthood debate isn't over

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Courtesy: Planned Parenthood Fund of Santa Barbara, Ventura & San Luis Obispo Counties Courtesy: Planned Parenthood Fund of Santa Barbara, Ventura & San Luis Obispo Counties

Shutting down the government did not happen Wednesday, but the debate over Planned Parenthood is likely to go on until December.

“I think we have a long fight ahead of us. And it looks like the leadership in the House will likely go from bad to worse,” said Julie Mickelberry, vice president of Planned Parent of Santa Barbara, Ventura & San Luis Obispo Counties.

She says there are four different measures moving through Congress trying to defund Planned Parenthood. The one most recently debated was a bill that would let states opt out of federal funding for the clinics. This did not go through, but Mickelberry says other bills that could defund Planned Parenthood completely would have an impact locally.  

“Defunding Planned Parenthood would be devastating for California. It could potentially shut down some health centers,” Mickelberry said, explaining women using Medi-Cal and federal family planning waiver programs would be restricted from receiving Planned Parenthood services.

Clinic shut downs would also impact other health centers in the state, according to the California Primary Care Association.

"Eliminating Planned Parenthood from our state’s comprehensive network of care would put untenable stress on remaining health centers. We do not have the capacity for such an increase in care, even for a year," the association's president and CEO Carmela Castellano Garcia wrote in a letter to Rep. Lois Capps.

Mickelberry says more than 90 percent of the local Planned Parenthood’s health services include cancer screenings, birth control, STI testing and treatment, and sex education. And those are the services federal funds pay for.

“No federal funds are used for abortion,” Mickelberry said, explaining abortions account for less than 10 percent of local Planned Parenthood services.

Even so, opponents of the non-profit want funding stopped -- particularly after a series of edited, undercover footage featuring Planned Parenthood officials came out -- and a full investigation of the organization.

Mickelberry says California lawmakers have a history of supporting the organization.

“We witness yet another attack by some of my colleagues who are obsessed with ending access to Planned Parenthood, a trusted health care provider in my community,” said Rep. Lois Capps (D-Santa Barbara), addressing Congress Tuesday. “Suggesting they can get their care from some other providers is both callous and condescending.”

Planned Parenthood officials say closing clinics isn’t likely to happen. That is, unless another Californian, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), vying for House Speaker has his say. McCarthy called for a moratorium on federal funds during an investigation of videos showing discussions of aborted fetal tissue sale. He said this publicly Monday when he announced his bid.

“McCarthy is not an advocate for women's health, so i think we're going to see even more attempts to defund Planned Parenthood,” Mickelberry said.

The vote for House Speaker happens next Thursday.

Nine weeks after that is the deadline for lawmakers to avoid another government shutdown: December 11.

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