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Zika Bill Fails Largely Because of Planned Parenthood Debate

2 minute read

Despite the fact that the Zika virus has infected millions of people—including thousands of pregnant women worldwide and close to 300 pregnant women in the United States—Senate has yet to pass a bill that would provide funding to combat it. On Tuesday, Senate once again failed to pass a funding bill, and this time, the bill collapsed largely because of arguments over whether funding should be given to Planned Parenthood.

The failure comes months after the White House requested $1.9 billion to fight the virus. While the vote needed 60 votes to advance, it failed 52 to 48.

Democrats opposed the $1.1 billion bill because it included a provision that would have prevented Planned Parenthood funding, CNN reports. Republicans say the funding is redirected to other health centers.

Zika, which is spread by sex as well as mosquitoes, is directly related to contraceptive health. As TIME reported previously, frequent ultrasounds are currently the only way to detect microcephaly before a child is born, and the virus also appears to last longer during pregnancy. Evidence suggests that women living in countries where Zika is spreading are increasingly seeking abortions, especially in places where the procedure is illegal.

“The bill includes an ideological rider blocking access to contraception for women in the United States, including women in Puerto Rico, even though this is a sexually transmitted disease,” said White House deputy press secretary Eric Schultz, ABC reports. Added Sen. Chuck Schumer: “Republicans can’t miss a chance to whack Planned Parenthood, even if their services are exactly what can help prevent the spread of this debilitating virus.”

Democrats also opposed measures in the bill that they argued would weaken environmental laws against pesticides.

Because of the July 4 recess, followed by another recess from the middle of the month until after Labor Day, there is now a small window of time to pass funding for the virus. Mosquito season in the United States has already arrived.

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