Defunding Planned Parenthood
As the clock runs out for Congress to pass legislation funding the Federal Government beyond the end of the fiscal year on September 30, elements of the majority Congressional Republicans are seeking to once again hold America hostage by threatening to shut the government down if they cannot defund Planned Parenthood. This is a smaller subset of their multiple attempts (well over 50 so far) to repeal the entire Affordable Care Act, but an important one in light of the people who would be harmed most by their succeeding in this endeavor – poor women.
Planned Parenthood has for years provided quality health care for women throughout the country on an affordable basis. This includes all aspects of women’s reproductive health care as well as cancer screening and other preventive health care. A small percentage of their business consists of providing abortions, none of which can be paid for by federal funds under federal law. The stated objective of these “pro-life” activists (and I use the term loosely here) is to end Planned Parenthood’s abortion services by denying them enough funding to force the closure of a significant number of their clinics.
Defunding Planned Parenthood has become a centerpiece of anti-abortion activists at both the state and federal level. States dominated by conservative Republican legislatures and governors have been attempting (successfully in many cases) to end or severely restrict the availability of women to receive abortions within their jurisdictions for years. Abortion is legal in this country. Various states have passed legislation limiting the practice in various ways, including how advanced the pregnancy is and the availability of physicians to admit patients to nearby hospitals in case of emergency. Clinics have been forced to close in many states as a result of such legislation, severely affecting the ability of many low-income women to receive quality, affordable, health care within a reasonable distance of where they live – regardless of whether the treatment involves abortion.
Claims that Republican politicians are waging a War on Women with regard to their health care have been raised for years. What they have set out to do in Congress this year does little to disabuse anyone of this notion. That the War is not only gender-based but also class-based can be attested to by the fact that abortion services still exist within every state, just not as easily accessible to those who cannot afford to travel a long distance to receive them.
Calling many of the abortion or anti-women’s choice forces “Pro-Life” is little more than a nice-sounding euphemism for “Pro-Birth” at any cost. Most proponents of drastically limiting abortion in this country are willing to make exceptions in the cases of pregnancy caused by rape or incest, or when the health of the pregnant woman is endangered by taking the pregnancy to term. Even that is now being called into question by some of the prominent early candidates for the Republican Presidential nomination.
Compassion for the unborn is laudable, but extremely hypocritical, in my view, when it ends at birth. Many of those legislators and Congress Critters who so vehemently rail against abortion as murder lose no sleep at all when it comes to funding anti-poverty programs, easing child hunger, homelessness or early childhood health care and education. According to them, government needs to be small enough to stay out of these aspects of a person’s life, but big enough to control the sex lives of millions of economically disadvantaged people (mostly women) by preventing access to contraception and other family planning resources.
If you don’t want to or can’t afford to raise a child, don’t get pregnant. If you don’t want to get pregnant, use contraception, but either you pay market price for it or abstain from sex altogether. Of course, that argument doesn’t deal with involuntary forced sex, but after you’ve served your nine month sentence, we can always find adoptive parents for the child. The compassion for the unborn is almost, if not entirely, negated by the lack of any sympathy or empathy for those forced to live with the consequences of an unwanted pregnancy.
The most effective method of reducing or eliminating abortion is not making it illegal or by making abstaining from sex the only permissible form of contraception. Education and availability of affordable alternatives in the form of contraception preventing pregnancy gets government out of our bedrooms and prevents more unwanted pregnancies and/or abortions than a million Bristol Palins or religious zealots preaching abstinence ever have or could. Making such services available only to people with the economic wherewithal to be able to pay a significant amount to avoid the poverty trap which unplanned pregnancies have become for many in this society serves only to exacerbate the problems of economic inequality which have already grown beyond reason in the past few decades.
We can afford to take the steps necessary to significantly curtail abortion as a means of birth control in this country without stigmatizing people as immoral beings deserving of punishment for participating in normal human behavior outside of wedlock, or who are forced into that plight by circumstances entirely beyond their control (Neanderthal morons claiming a woman can’t get pregnant against their will notwithstanding). Solving the problem in other ways is cheaper, safer and far less hypocritical and coercive than the approach being taken now by the predominantly male politicians seeking little more than to maintain control over female reproductive health in this country.
Congressional Republicans need to put a halt to this hostage-taking all-or-nothing strategy of imposing minority rule over the rest of us. If they were threatening homeland security by refusing to pay the Pentagon’s bills instead of laying off civil servants and refusing services to the poor, young, elderly and disabled among us, there would be hell to pay. They’ve been conducting this form of chicanery ever since Barack Obama was elected and the tactics have long since worn out their welcome. Do your jobs and govern us as equals, rather than trying to rule over us as if we were your morally and intellectually inferior subjects. You got away with this crap without meaningful consequences when you shut down the government for two weeks a couple of years ago. Don’t press your luck going into a Presidential election year.
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