Washington—The U.S. House of Representatives failed Feb. 2 to override President Obama’s veto of a bill that would have largely defunded Planned Parenthood, but pro-life advocates remained hopeful about future success.
The House voted 241-186 for the override, falling 45 votes short of the two-thirds majority required. The failure was not a surprise, considering the margin by which the proposal originally passed. Supporters of the legislation actually lost ground from the House’s original passage vote, which was 240-181.
Only two days after the House vote in early January, the president vetoed the budget-related bill, which would have cut nearly 90 percent of federal money in the next year for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates. The legislation also would have essentially gutted the controversial 2010 health care law opposed by nearly all pro-life organizations.
Obama’s veto protected the interests of the country’s leading abortion provider, which performs more than 300,000 abortions a year, receives more than $500 million from the government annually and continues to be plagued by scandal. The latest in a growing list of black eyes for Planned Parenthood’s reputation came in last year’s revelation through undercover videos that it trades in baby body parts.
Southern Baptist public policy specialist Barrett Duke said the surprise was both chambers “were able to pass this bill in the first place,” since the measure “was working against two entrenched, impassioned interests Congress is very divided about—health care and abortion.”
“Defunding Planned Parenthood and sending those taxpayer dollars to health providers that do not perform abortions is especially high on our list of things to do,” said Duke, vice president for public policy of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, in written comments for Baptist Press. “The initial passage of this bill tells us we are very close to achieving this goal.”
Pro-life leaders expressed their hope the election of a pro-life president this year could result in PPFA’s defunding.
Congressional passage of the legislation apparently marked the first time a bill to cut funds for PPFA had reached the president’s desk. The Senate had approved the proposal in a 52-47 vote in early December.
PPFA and its affiliates received $553.7 million in government grants and reimbursements, according to its latest annual financial report (2014-15). Planned Parenthood affiliates performed 323,999 abortions during 2013-14, the most recent year for which statistics are available. (BP)