Martha McSally’s longtime opposition to federal funding for Planned Parenthood is out of step with her district.
Recent polling showed that 54% of her constituents would be more likely to oppose her if she voted to defund Planned Parenthood. This is unsurprising, as Planned Parenthood has a 60% favorability rating in Arizona (71% among Hispanics).
There are two Planned Parenthood clinics in McSally’s district, which provide health care services such as cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and birth control. (One of the clinics also provides abortions, but federal dollars don’t cover those services.)
In 2012, McSally marked “opposed” on a Center for Arizona Policy survey that asked about federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Then in 2015, she dangled the possibility that she might have softened her position, saying through a spokesman that she hadn’t yet decided whether Planned Parenthood’s funding should be cut off, because she “recognizes the importance of ensuring low-income men and women have access to affordable and available health care services.”
A few weeks later, however, she voted for the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2015. She justified her vote by saying she wanted to see the money diverted to other local health care clinics, like El Rio. That position is difficult to reconcile with her 2017 vote for the Republican health care bill, which would strip over $800 billion from Medicaid; nearly half of El Rio patients use Medicaid to pay for their care.
Her spokesman also cited “Planned Parenthood’s practices of harvesting baby organs,” which is both misleading and inflammatory. As Factcheck.org points out, current U.S. law permits the donation of tissue from a legally aborted fetus for research purposes. McSally confirmed through her spokesman that she supports that law. In any case, none of the Planned Parenthood clinics in Arizona participated in the tissue donation program.
McSally has continued to cast votes for measures that would deny federal funding to Planned Parenthood, including HR 3762, HR 7 and HJ Res 43. The one exception: in 2015, she declined to participate in an effort to shut down the government unless funding was cut off from Planned Parenthood, pointing out that a shutdown would cost taxpayers billions without doing anything to stop the Medicaid and Title X payments which fund Planned Parenthood.