Senate Democrats Block Funding to Fight Zika Virus

As of August 31, 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was aware of approximately 17,000 cases of the mosquito-transmitted Zika virus in the U.S., including nearly 14,000 in Puerto Rico alone. But, for Senate Democrats, that’s apparently not a public health crisis worth addressing before a key political constituency is served.

On Tuesday, Democrats blocked the passage of a Senate bill that would fund the treatment and prevention of the deadly virus, vowing to stop any legislation that did not direct taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood. Current bill text does not permit the nation’s foremost abortion provider to receive money allocated for the government’s emergency Zika response.

But, Planned Parenthood already receives approximately $334.5 million in annual subsidies on top of the $1.2 billion it obtains each year from state and federal governments in the form of Medicaid payments. And Democrats, including their presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, have demanded that the Hyde Amendment, which bars taxpayer money from being used to fund abortions, be repealed.

Democrats have made clear that they intend to expand Planned Parenthood’s reach by subsidizing the organization with federal funds, even if Americans object to their tax dollars covering abortions. A July 2016 Marist poll found that 62 percent of voters disapproved of using taxpayer money to pay for abortion, compared to just 35 percent who approve.  

Still, the abortion lobby remains a powerful political interest in Democratic Party policymaking. During the 2014 campaign cycle, Planned Parenthood donated 100 percent of its nearly $1 million in federal campaign contributions to Democrats.

Learn more about how Senate Democrats have chosen Planned Parenthood over caring for Zika patients at Fox News, via the Associated Press.