Earlier this year, the Center for Medical Progress released a series of videos revealing conversations among Planned Parenthood employees discussing the sale of fetal tissue. Since then, many Republican groups and government figures have been mobilizing to defund Planned Parenthood. Most recently, the House of Representatives voted in favor of defunding the nonprofit organization, keeping the debate alive between pro-choice and pro-life advocates.
Vote on Planned Parenthood is a right-wing attack on women
Throughout the Republican Party campaign escapade, Jeb Bush has been quoted as saying he is “not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues,” a stance recently supported by conservatives in the House of Representatives. On Sept. 18, the House voted 241–187 on a bill that would cut off Planned Parenthood from its annual $528 million in federal funding, primarily sourced in Medicaid.
As there was no chance of this bill passing in the Senate, the approval of the House feels very much like a temper tantrum — a loud show of irrationality with no reward. A few sketchy, unreliable videos surfaced accusing Planned Parenthood of malpractice, and the House majority sees it as a lifeline to kick and scream for a while, hoping to appease its conservative friends in the Senate.
Federal aid for abortions is already extremely limited by the Hyde Amendment, which restricts the use of Medicaid funds for abortions to instances of rape, incest or threats to a woman’s health. It is often low-income women who depend the most on Planned Parenthood’s services, so removing their options and creating more unplanned pregnancies and unresolved health concerns would logically mean more Medicaid costs for taxpayers down the road. It also means significantly more hoops to jump through for women already facing ridiculous obstacles. The move to freeze governmental funding for Planned Parenthood is not the result of a slanderous video, but rather the continued insertion of politics into matters of women’s personal health.
Scrolling through my Facebook News Feed that Friday, many articles and sentiments were being shared in response to the bill’s approval. The persuasive reaction of indignant friends and journalists was to bring up the copious services offered by Planned Parenthood outside of abortions. Removing funding from this widespread nonprofit would mean removing affordable access to an array of services and education necessary for women’s health, including breast cancer, cervical cancer and ovarian cancer screenings, as well as tests and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases and contraceptives for safe sex. The strongest stance against the bill is to emphasize just how miniscule the percentage of women receiving abortions is to the much larger percentage of women being helped by the other health care options Planned Parenthood offers.
I understand that this is an important argument, as many people are unaware of how comprehensive its services are, yet responding to the House’s vote in this manner implies that if this were strictly a matter of abortion services, removing funding would somehow be justified.
This is where my frustration lies. If we truly hope to move toward a post-patriarchal society, we would understand that access to safe and affordable abortions is just as important for women as access to breast cancer screenings. There would be no need to make a distinction between the two. It is as if there is a hierarchy of women’s needs, and the right to bearing a child upon your own free will has somehow fallen to the bottom.
We can continue arguing the safe and convenient response, maintaining the focus on an outrageous deprivation of women’s health care. In doing this, we are conceding crucial ground: the prioritization of abortion rights, which is exactly what this bill is an attack on. The loss of affordable HIV testing and mammograms is merely collateral damage in the eyes of conservatives on Capitol Hill, with their true intentions aimed at restricting abortion rights.
It is difficult for me to conceptualize that we are still experiencing such backlash 42 years after the Roe v. Wade decision and that the right to an abortion is still considered a controversial subject. People don’t want to talk about abortion, but it is what we need to be talking about, removing the stigmas that are so painfully apparent in the responses to this bill.
Liz Alexander is a sophomore politics major with a concentration in international studies. Email her at [email protected]
No clinic that provides abortions should receive government funds
Abortion is one of the most uncomfortable and touchy subjects that one can talk about. It is a subject that many people want to avoid talking about, but it is an important conversation that we must have as a nation.
Regardless of how you feel the laws behind abortion should be written, it is very important to recognize the importance of reducing the number of abortions that occur in this country and around the world. According to statistics published in 2014 from the Guttmacher Institute, a former afﬁliate of Planned Parenthood, there have been roughly 53 million abortions in America over the past four decades.
To me, this is a silent holocaust that desperately needs to be addressed. The numbers may have gone down in recent years due to the Great Recession, but there are still an estimated 1 million abortions that continue to go on each year — this means that roughly 21 percent of all pregnancies in America end in an abortion. Considering the fact that we live in the 21st century with such advanced modern medicine practices, this is unacceptable.
The debate over abortion was recently renewed this summer when the sting videos came out about Planned Parenthood. The callous and graphic nature in which the Planned Parenthood ofﬁcials discussed abortion techniques that preserve fetal parts was extremely disturbing.
Following those revelations, people began to call on Congress to defund Planned Parenthood. The federal government currently funds roughly a third of Planned Parenthood’s budget. And that absolutely needs to stop. Although Planned Parenthood claims that only 3 percent of its operations are related to abortion, which critics such as PolitiFact dispute, people should not be forced to have their taxpayer dollars go to a private organization that openly violates their religious beliefs.
According to OpenSecrets, Planned Parenthood donates money to the Democratic Party and lobbies members of Congress on abortion laws. No government money should go to any organization that is actively involved in the political process.
Congress should not only defund Planned Parenthood, but it should also give the roughly $500 million spent on Planned Parenthood to other women’s health organizations that do not perform nonemergency abortions.
It is very important that women’s health continues to be funded by the government. The sad truth is that men can be irresponsible when it comes to getting a woman pregnant. Women need to be supported during those difﬁcult times by someone — if not men, then by the government. The federal and state governments should also invest more in preventative measures to reduce the number of abortions and unintended pregnancies that occur in this country.
Another alternative to funding Planned Parenthood is for the government to create its own organization dedicated to women’s health. This could be done instead of relying on private organizations. The only downside to this option is that the government does not have a good track record of running its own organizations. There are numerous examples of government-run organizations such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the United States Postal Service and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services that have run over budget and have underperformed.
A week from now, Congress will be forced to address this issue, as it faces an Oct. 1 budgeting deadline. President Barack Obama recently issued a warning to Congress not to pass a budget that makes any changes to Planned Parenthood funding. A logical compromise would be to relocate 25 percent of that funding to other women’s health organizations. Knowing that no side seems willing to make that type of compromise, they should avoid adjusting Planned Parenthood funding as part of the debt ceiling debate and focus on other methods of reducing the government deﬁcit. A government shutdown over a speciﬁc issue that has limited room for compromise is a bad idea. Shutdowns should only occur over broad spending issues that have room for a comprehensive compromise.
A lot of conservatives across this country view Planned Parenthood the same way that liberals view the National Rifle Association. Although both organizations have the support of a large number of Americans, they are extremely polarizing. Imagine how supporters of Planned Parenthood would feel if the government gave money to the NRA. Planned Parenthood should be replaced with more bipartisan organizations that everyone feels
Ryan King is a freshman journalism major. Email him at [email protected]