Tuesday, March 1, 2011

I Stand with Planned Parenthood

If you haven't heard (because you live under a rock or something) that the Congressional House of Representatives has voted to completely ban all funding for Planned Parenthood (led by John Boehner, from my lovely state), then you are missing a lot. This bill is awful and a major attack on the health of women and families in this country.

Proponents of this bill claim that the reasoning behind the removal of funding is due to Planned Parenthood's provision of abortions. They claim that tax payer's and federal funds should not go toward funding abortions. In total, nearly $400 million would be cut from the federal budget if Planned Parenthood were to stop receiving funds. The attempt is to try and balance the budget by cutting unnecessary or frivolous expenses.

Opponents of the bill cry that this would cripple many American women's ability to access health care (particularly women in low income brackets), and would increase the number of unwanted pregnancies, thereby leading to "back-alley" abortions (home abortions) and the death of women seeking those abortions. They are claiming that the preventative measures provided by Planned Parenthood are far more cost-effective than the cost of care for unwanted children in adoption and foster systems, and the health costs of those women being pregnant to begin with.

First, a couple charts to give you a sense of what funds PP receives and what services are provided from those funds:

Planned Parenthood's Fund Sources:

Services Provided:
Now, here's the deal:

Obviously, I stand with those that oppose this bill for the reasons listed. I am lucky. I am covered by my family's insurance. They cover most of my health bills, with the exception of my birth control. But I make enough to cover that, and if I can't at the time I need a refill, I know I can ask them for help. However, the majority of people in my age group are not so lucky. We are at an age where we float between being covered by mummy and daddy's insurance, having solid employment that provides insurance, and having employment that makes meeting health costs a reasonable endeavor. Most college kids and recent graduates live paycheck to paycheck; and in this economy, they are having a tough time finding reliable employment with benefits. We're taking any jobs we can find.

This is where Planned Parenthood comes in. It is a vital health resource for young people and low income households. They provide the necessary services that allow young and low income women to lead healthy lives. As the chart above states, abortions are only 3% of the services provided by Planned Parenthood; and that particular service is only provided at specific clinics, not all clinics. Planned Parenthood is an amazing resource to turn to for contraception, STI tests, well-woman exams (which cancer screening is a part of), treatment (antibiotics), pregnancy tests, fertility treatment, prenatal care, postnatal care, and so on. That's right: not all people who use Planned Parenthood are seeking to avoid pregnancy. Many
want children, but can not afford the incredibly expensive high-end fertility tests and treatments.

So if Planned Parenthood does so much for women's and family health, why did it pass? Well, as I stated above, the GOP (and some Democrats, they are just as guilty) believe that cutting PP's funding is a great way to balance the budget and attack abortion at the same time. Now, I'm not going to get into the abortion debate here (I'll save that for another post), but whether people like it or not, abortion is legal under Roe v. Wade and is a legitimate surgical procedure in the United States. Supporters of the bill claimed that the reasoning was to prevent PP from using federal funds to fund abortions. This is simply preposterous, as both the Hyde Amendment and the Stupak-Pitts Amendment prevent that very thing except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the mother is in jeopardy (such as ectopic pregnancies or preeclempsia). So that reason is bunk. The bill's supporters claim that cutting PP's funding would help balance the budget. Except time and time again, it has been shown that preventative care in the cases of preventable diseases and conditions is more cost effective than treatment (that changes in relation to chronic diseases, but that's another issue for someone more educated than I to wrestle with).

Overall, there is, in my opinion, no good reason to pass this bill. The only real reason I (and many others) can speculate that they passed this, was that with the economy in the shitter, two wars abroad, a domestic drug war, and a thousand other issues going on right now, it was simply an opportunistic move by the GOP leadership to pass a bill that they've been brewing over for decades. It's a distraction away from the fact that, at the end of the day, they have about just as many solutions to the economy and job crisis as the Democrats (which is to say, none). They were voted in to try and fix the economy and the unemployment situation, but they have no answers either, so it's easier to pass a bill they've been drooling over for decades under the guise of fiscal responsibility, while simultaneously throwing a bone to their far-right fundamentalist Christian base.

This is simply an extension of the mass move against women and their reproductive rights across the country by the GOP. Don't believe me? Take a look. That's not even the most updated list. Many of those bills would endanger women or try to circumvent Roe v. Wade. Surprisingly, this is where the Good News comes in.

The Good News is that this bill, and many others that have been proposed on the state level, won't pass. Why? Well, in the case of Planned Parenthood, the bill has to go to the Senate, which is controled by the Democrats, who should know better (especially after getting spanked last election) than to piss off their base by passing it. This bill is getting a lot of attention, and they'd be morons to ignore it. And even if the bill does pass, it has to bounce back and forth between the House and Senate until they can agree on the specifics, before it goes to the President; which, if he has a brain in his skull, will veto it.

As for the myriad of state legislation being proposed, many of them go directly against Roe v. Wade, and won't make it beyond tabling. Others are simply too insane to pass, such as a Georgia law that would insist on murder investigations into miscarriages. SO as furious as I am that the Planned Parenthood bill passed the House, and that there are lawmakers out there trying to strip women of their autonomy, there is a silver lining, and there is hope despite it all.

You can stand with Planned Parenthood here by signing the petition, donating (donate in John Boehner's name, as a way of thanking him for being a jackass), or writing a letter to your representative on Capitol Hill, urging them to protect women's rights and keep Planned Parenthood in operation.

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