By Maine Family Planning
Vice President Mike Pence recently made the following statement at the White House Panel on Women’s Empowerment: “President Trump and our administration are going to work tirelessly to empower women to climb the ladder of opportunity and contribute even more to America’s success in the years ahead. And I know, under President Trump’s leadership, the future for our country and the future for American women is brighter than ever before.”
Less than 24 hours later, the Vice President took his seat as the President of the Senate and cast the tie-breaking vote to allow states to discriminate against abortion providers in distributing federal family planning funds.
With Republicans holding a 52-48 majority in the Senate, why was the vote so close? Because two Republicans, Maine’s Senator Susan Collins and Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, broke ranks “to empower women to climb the ladder of opportunity” by making it possible for women to control their reproductive lives by choosing their reproductive health provider of choice.
The pressure to vote the party line on this matter must have been extraordinary, and Maine Family Planning thanks Senator Collins for her principled vote. We are equally grateful to Senator Angus King and Representative Chellie Pingree for their votes in support of Maine women and teens.
What does this mean for Maine? With this vote, Congress has allowed states that administer the federal family planning program to discriminate against family planning providers that also provide abortion services. However, in Maine, state government does not play a role in deciding how federal family planning funds are distributed.
Instead, these funds are granted directly to Maine Family Planning, a private not-for-profit organization, for the maintenance of a statewide family planning system. As the statewide administrator of the federal Title X family planning program, Maine Family Planning will continue to use those funds to provide high quality family planning services, and to support providers who meet the rigorous federal standards for delivery of such services – including our colleagues at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.