Health care officials in the North Country say federal funding for Planned Parenthood is in jeopardy.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the 2011 continuing resolution along party lines over the weekend - a bill that includes major cuts to a variety of federal programs and services.
Included in that legislation is a budget resolution that eliminates Title X, which guarantees family-planning services for low-income women. That federal measure provides some $317 million for family-planning nationwide and about $75 million for Planned Parenthood offices across the country.
Planned Parenthood of the North Country - which is based in Plattsburgh and serves communities in Clinton, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties - serves nearly 14,000 patients.
Kathie Wunderlich is president and CEO of the North Country branch. She says the GOP majority is "radically out of step" with mainstream America, adding that the weekend's vote does "noting to reduce the deficit."
According to Wunderlich, defunding Planned Parenthood would result in job loss in northern New York and take away health care access for women who "can't afford to pay for it on their own."
Planned Parenthood of the North Country provides more than 17,000 tests for sexually transmitted infections annually, as well as some 6,000 cervical cancer screenings and upwards of 8,000 breast exams.
Wunderlich adds that defunding Planned Parenthood would also take away affordable cancer screenings, birth control, and HIV testing for the thousands of patients the program serves.
She notes that anti-abortion advocates will see an increase in unwanted pregnancies if funding for Planned Parenthood is stripped.
"It is difficult to understand why people who say they are opposed to abortion would do so much to undermine the family planning and contraception that helps prevent the need for it," Wunderlich said.
The amendment passed by the House over the weekend was proposed by Representative Mike Pence, a Republican from Indiana.
Wunderlich says Pence's proposal is an "unprecedented, ideological attack" on a specific health care provider.
"More than 90 percent of the care Planned Parenthood health centers provide is preventive," she said. "Yet Rep. Pence is steadfast in wanting to bar Planned Parenthood, because it also provides women with abortion care."
Democrat Bill Owens represents New York's 23rd Congressional District and has been critical of the GOP leadership for passing what he has repeatedly called a "futile" piece of legislation.
He says he's opposed to any effort to defund Planned Parenthood, noting that cutting specific government programs and services for ideological reasons is not the best approach to getting the federal deficit under control.
"This is about ideological issues that Republicans are trying to focus on," Owens said. "What we should be focused on is sharing the pain and that we do things that are focused on the economy, so that we reduce the deficit and the debt and that we grow jobs."
Owens is calling for a three percent across-the-board reduction in federal spending.
Some Republicans, like Chris Gibson in New York's 20th Congressional District, have also sought lesser cuts to more programs. Gibson is among the few members of the House majority that's calling for major cuts in defense spending and the abolishment of the Department of Homeland Security.
Defense, along with Medicare, account for most federal spending.
Owens says that according to polls he's looked at, most Americans want a fair approach to spending cuts.
"That's what people are interested in," he said. "Virtually every poll you look at says that what people are more concerned about than anything else are job creation and the economy. That's what we need to be focused on - not these ideological issues."
"When you look at Planned Parenthood, 97 percent of what they do is women's health," Owens added. "Clearly, in our region which is very rural, we need to make sure we're doing as much health outreach as we possibly can."
Wunderlich says that the Pence proposal would cut off 1.4 million people from their primary source of health care.
Owens notes, however, that the amendment isn't likely to go anywhere, as Democrats still control the U.S. Senate and President Barack Obama has veto power.