Politics, Planned Parenthood and the War on Women
March 25, 2011
Birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and, yes, abortion are vitally important health care services. Planned Parenthood makes sure millions of people—including many who are young and uninsured—receive these services. Planned Parenthood and other family planning clinics save lives and tax dollars in the long-term, and that should be the bottom line in any discussion over federal funding.
This is what makes the February 18th House of Representatives 240 to 185 vote to eliminate Planned Parenthood’s federal funding so shocking, heartbreaking and, ultimately, dangerous. The legislation didn’t pass the Senate, but budget negotiations are under way. If conservative members of Congress strip away funding, 63 percent of Planned Parenthood clinics may close, putting many young and low income people at risk across the country.
Many people take offense to Planned Parenthood’s abortion procedures, but overlook the fact that legislation already prevents government funds from being spent on abortion. Representatives claimed that any federal money lets Planned Parenthood take care of its other expenses, “freeing up” money for abortions. Such a hostile, shortsighted position fails to consider the other essential health care that Planned Parenthood provides. In fact, only three percent of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortions, which means that the overwhelming majority of their services and funding has nothing to do with abortion. But even so, lest we forget, abortion is legal in the U.S.: Planned Parenthood has as much a right to provide abortions with its own funding as it does to use federal funding to perform STD tests. Any religious or ethical objections to abortion should not—and absolutely must not—prevent providing support for vital services like cancer screening and STD testing.
Other representatives argue that Planned Parenthood is an expense we cannot afford. Can Americans truly deny a pregnant woman a cancer screening, one she may be unable to otherwise receive, with the excuse that this is a tough financial year? Following the vote in the House, Representative Barbara Lee called the decision and its motive a “war on women.” As far as I’m concerned, we’re facing nothing less.