Government Shutdown Avoided, But Abortion Takes a Hit

Cynthia Dermody
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abortion protest

Republicans and Democrats were able to pull off a $39 billion in cuts stopgap measure at the 11th hour last night to keep the government's lights on and open for business. Neither side is exactly thrilled with the outcome. The Republicans wanted to cut a lot more, the Democrats wanted to cut a lot less -- and both sides had to cave at least a little on the most contentious issue at the heart of the battle, the federal funding of abortion services, especially Planned Parenthood.

So there was no real winner in last night's abortion war, but that is not stopping members of both parties from calling minor victories depending on which side of the issue you fall on.

Here's how abortion rights are looking from both sides of the aisle:

Why the Democrats are happy:

The controversial rider to eliminate federal funds for Planned Parenthood and it's affiliates, got set aside. Planned Parenthood receives $363 million in annual federal funding and performs one-quarter of all the abortions in this country, though many supporters of the funding tried to make this about the other services that the organization provides, such as family counseling, STD screening and mammographies.

Tabling the issue was probably a smart move in this situation, for both sides. Think about it: You are either strongly in support of the funding, or strongly against it. There is no middle ground, there never is. This is not an issue that either was going to budge on any time soon, and if you are looking for a temporary measure to keep things going for a while longer, this is a good one to get out of the mix.

Why the Republicans are happy:

One rider that did make it through prevents the use of federal or local funds to pay for abortion services in the District of Columbia. The deal restores language that President Barack Obama and Democrats removed in a previous budget when they controlled both chambers of Congress, disallowing federal tax dollars to pay for abortions in the nation's capital. Prior to the initial adoption of the ban in 1996, federal funds were used to pay for 4,000 abortions annually.

 

But tabling the Planned Parenthood rider does not mean it's gone forever. Republicans vow to bring it up for vote again, while Democrats insist this is the one issue on which they will not budge. In other words, people, this fight is far from over, we haven't seen anything yet.

Is the stop-gap measure a victory or a set-back for abortion rights?

 

Image via badlyricpolice/Flickr

 

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