Contraceptive Makers Helped Elect Republican Congress Ready To Defund Planned Parenthood

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By Andrew Perez

Leading manufacturers of contraceptive pill and contraceptive devices helped elect Republican lawmakers eager to eliminate federal funded for Planned Parenthood, according to a MapLight review of federal campaign finance data.

Through their own political action committees, the six firms a combined $1.9 million in direct support to GOP House and Senate candidates during the 2015 -2 016 election cycle, while they committed $1.2 million to Democratic candidates.

The drug corporations also contributed at least $562,500 to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in 2015. The Chamber, the principal lobbying group for businesses in Washington, spent $29 million over the 2016 cycle to boost Republican Senate and House candidates, many of them staunch conservatives who vowed to defund Planned Parenthood and supporting Supreme court nominees willing to overturn Roe v. Wade .

The top manufacturers of contraceptive pills and machines are among the worlds biggest medication corporations. They have many interests before Congress, and their product lines include medications that generate more revenue than family planning. While the firms may publicly support expanding access to family planning, the fight over Planned Parenthood funding may take a back seat to other company priorities, such as corporate taxation reform or speeding up the medication approval process.

For example, Pfizer, the worlds top pharmaceutical firm by revenue, fabricates contraceptive pills and capsules that can be used for abortions. But its biggest sellers are a vaccine to treat pneumonia and drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia.

Pfizer has promoted efforts to expand access to injectable contraceptives in developing countries. But in the last six years, the companys political action committee has also donated to 24 of the 27 Republican Senators who have co-sponsored current legislation to defund Planned Parenthood. In 2016, approximately 62 percent of the $1.1 million Pfizers political action committee donated to House and Senate campaigns went to Republicans.

A Pfizer spokesperson, Sharon Castillo, told MapLight: We support organizations as well as elected officials and candidates on both sides of the aisle based exclusively on two general principles: their efforts to improve incentives for invention and expand access to medicines and vaccines for the patients we serve.

Merck, the fourth largest medication company by revenue, fabricates NuvaRing contraceptive reverberates and Implanon contraceptive implants. On its website, Merck pledges it will continue to support efforts to accelerate access to our products and guarantees to reproductive health and rights are included in world, regional and country strategies. Like Pfizer, Mercks political action committee favored GOP House and Senate candidates in 2016, sending $354,000 to Republicans and $212,000 to Democrats.

Our company is committed to participating constructively and responsibly in the political process, which includes providing support to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and through the nonpartisan Merck political action committee( PAC ), Claire Gillespie, a Merck spokesperson, said in a statement. The PAC supportings legislators from both major parties who understand and appreciate the job we do to discover and develop medications and to attain them available to the patients who need them.

We is argued that access to modern contraceptives are an important part of family planning and we partner with organizations and support projects that work to increase women access to health services, reduce maternal mortality, increase awareness of reproductive/ sex health among adolescents and vulnerable populations, avoid mother-to-child transmission of HIV/ AIDS, and promote women empowerment and access to economic opportunities, she said.

Allergan, whose top-selling medication is the wrinkle-remover Botox, constructs contraceptive pills and intrauterine device( IUDs ). Lets help knock down the obstacles to IUD use, says a website for Liletta, an IUD manufactured by Allergan. In the 2016 cycle, 84 percent of the donations made by the companys political action committees went to Republican House and Senate candidates.

An Allergan spokesperson declined to comment.

Conflicts Can Pose Serious Risks

Pfizer, Merck and Allergan are all U.S. Chamber of Commerce members. Other contraceptive manufacturers that belong to the Chamber include Johnson& Johnson, Abbott Laboratory and Mylan.

Health insurers Anthem, Aetna and Cigna, which offer family planning to female enrollees without co-payments, are also Chamber members. Under the Affordable Care Act, signed by President obama in 2010, most health insurance schemes are required to include family planning coverage.

As a nonprofit trade association, the Chamber is not required to disclose its donors. Some corporations, nonetheless, have voluntarily disclosed their Chamber memberships and dues pays. Merck, for example, paid over $400,000 to the Chamber in 2015. Allergan disclosed devoting at least $30,000 to the Chamber in 2016.

In the 2016 election cycle, the Chambers independent spending exclusively facilitated GOP candidates for the first time. The vast majority of its 2014 spending also favored Republicans. Over the past two election cycles, the group has backed many Republicans who resist Planned Parenthood.

In 2014, for example, the Chamber spent $3.1 million to help elect Sen. Joni Ernst( R-Iowa ). Ernst recently introduced legislation to purpose federal funded for Planned Parenthood and allow states to defund the organization. Sen. Marco Rubio( R-Fla .), an initial co-sponsor on Ernsts bill, benefited from $1.5 million in spending by the Chamber against his opponent during his 2016 reelection race.

The Chamber has never taken a position on Planned Parenthood or abortion , nor do those issues play any role in which candidates we support, Blair Holmes, a Chamber spokesperson, told MapLight. Our focus is rise the economy and creating jobs through sound policy.

Bruce Freed, who produces the Center for Political Accountability, said that companies need to know how their money is being used and ensure that its not in conflict with their values, their policies and their business.

This type of consistency is important, told Freed, whose group tracks corporations policies on disclosing their political spending and trade association memberships. Conflicts can pose serious risks for the companies.

In 2015, CVS Health announced it was ending the membership of the committee with the Chamber because the organization had lobbied against anti-smoking regulations in foreign countries. A spokesman for CVS, which decided to stop selling tobacco in 2014, said the company was leaving the Chamber because CVS Healths purpose is to help people on their path to better health, and we basically believe tobacco use is in direct conflict with this purpose.

Battle Over Federal Funds

Republicans have sought for more than a decade to defund Planned Parenthood because some of its clinics furnish abortions. Vice President Mike Pence sponsored a bill to defund Planned Parenthood in 2007, when he was a member of Congress.

Congress passed a law in 1976 prohibiting federal dollars from was for abortions. Lawmakers later added exceptions for cases involving rape, incest, or threats to a moms life.

Planned Parenthood receives federal money for a wide range of health care services other than abortion. The organisation says those services, which range from cancer screening to contraception, make up 97 percent of the care it delivers.

Planned Parenthood says it could lose up to 40 percent of its funding if Congress were to defund the organization. Many of Planned Parenthoods patients could lose access to health care, according to a Guttmacher Institute study published last month.

According to Planned Parenthood, a majority of its 2.5 million U.S. patients receive services either through Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poorest of the poor and disabled, or Title X, a federally funded program for reproductive services that was launched by President Richard Nixon in 1970.

Planned Parenthoods chairman, Cecile Richards, recently told Buzzfeed that the organization wont be able to provide services to all of the women it treats through gifts alone. Planned Parenthood did not respond to questions from MapLight.

A 2016 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that after Texas barred clinics to be associated with abortion providers from participating in its Womens Health Program, claims for injectable contraceptives declined by 31 percent. Birth rates rose 27 percent among low-income women in counties with Planned Parenthood affiliates who were use contraceptive injections, according to the study.

In September, the Obstetrics& Gynecology journal published a study that determined the maternal mortality rates in Texas more than doubled between 2010 and 2014. The examine cited changes to nation reproductive health statutes as a possible factor in the spike, but said they were not likely the only cause.

Such articles was originally published by MapLight.org .

Methodology: MapLight analysis of campaign contributions to the principal campaign committees of federal candidates for the 2016 election cycle. All numbers are based on latest data made available by the Federal Election Commission as of February 9, 2017.

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