Planned Parenthood supporters turn to Murray and Cantwell to block cuts

By:  Kyung M. Song, The Seattle Times
Source: Seattle Times

WASHINGTON - Five days after demonstrating against U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler's vote to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood, pro-choice supporters on Tuesday are turning to two women they're counting on to block it -- Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.

Members of Planned Parenthood Votes! Washington will deliver petitions signed by nearly 46,000 voters to the downtown Seattle offices of the two Democratic senators this morning.

On Thursday, about 15 activists protested for an hour outside Herrera Beutler's mobile office in Vancouver over the freshman Republican's votes to cut $61 billion from the remainder of this year's federal budget as well as an amendment to strip federal money for family-planning services.

Neither of those measures has passed the Senate as Democrats and Republicans remain stuck in a budget standoff that could shut down the federal government this weekend.

Cantwell and Murray were among 41 members of the 53-member Senate Democratic caucus who signed a letter Monday denouncing "extreme proposals by House Republicans to eliminate support for women's health."

Planned Parenthood fears that proposed cuts to the so-called Title X funding for family-planning services would prevent women, many of them lower-income, from receiving birth-control counseling, screening for sexually-transmitted diseases, breast cancer exams and other health services.

More than two-thirds of patients in the state whose services are paid for with Title X funding -- which is not used for abortions -- go to Planned Parenthood health centers.

Two weeks ago, about five dozen Planned Parenthood members protested outside the Mercer Island office of Rep. Dave Reichert, who also voted for the same cuts.