Planned Parenthood and the States

Last week the Senate voted on a bill that would allow states to restrict funding to Planned Parenthood. Vice President Pence broke the 50-50 tie so that states could now set their own laws to regulate payments going to Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood receives a large portion of its funding through the government. In fiscal year 2013-14, it received over half a billion dollars in federal money and large amount of funding through Medicaid payments.   That’s a significant amount of money from taxpayers each year.

As with any potential budget cuts, including the topic allowing states to refuse to give money to Planned Parenthood, there are certain budget basics.   There are two things that are always true when the topic is potential budget cuts. These are true whether it’s government, business or likely even tightening personal budgets. These two things are:

  • The person or department who is threatened with cuts will tell you that they will have to cut the most popular thing, or the thing that will have the biggest impact or the thing that is most critical. Why? As a tactic to ‘show what could happen’ if they don’t get all their money.
  • They will scream that the program in question only costs _____ cents a day or _____ dollars per person and so it doesn’t even save much money.

So any discussion of cutting Planned Parenthood’s budget ALWAYS, 100% of the time, starts with their backers talking about the effects of cuts to ‘women’s health funding’. Why? See rule #1 above. That’s the popular topic. Who would cut funding for women’s health? They won’t talk about abortion, because—depending on the survey you look at—the country is relatively evenly divided on their opinion of the morality of abortion, and even some of those who are in favor of abortion, don’t believe that they should take money from taxpayers who are opposed on moral grounds to pay for abortions. So that will not be the topic, at least from pro-abortionists, when talk turns to the funding of Planned Parenthood.

So, didn’t this vote allow states to cut funding for women’s health? No. Not at all. What the bill said was that in funding women’s health, they could choose not to give money Planned Parenthood as part of that funding. That currently is not clear in the law that gives federal money to states for those programs.   So why is that a big deal? Well, primarily because pro-choice advocates (which is usually what those with a pro-abortion opinion prefer to be called) are not pro-choice when it comes to how taxpayer money is spent.   They are not in favor of giving choice to the states on which organizations to fund and want to insist that Planned Parenthood be included. They don’t want that choice to be available to taxpayers.

And it isn’t going to restrict money for low income women seeking healthcare. In the case of Medicaid payments, for example, think of Medicaid as health insurance for low income individuals. If they can’t go to Planned Parenthood because states restrict Medicaid payments to them, then they are free to just choose another ob/gyn provider.

Women’s Health?

But is this really about women’s health? No. Again, back to budget cut tactic #1, which says that ‘women’s health’ is simply what those against decreases to Planned Parenthood funding think may be the most effective way to fight against proposed cuts.

Though no one is talking about cutting funding for women’s health, let’s talk about Planned Parenthood and their services for women’s health. Other than ‘family planning’, when people think of women’s health issues most will think of things such breast cancer screenings and mammograms, cervical cancer screenings and similar things.   So why shouldn’t we be in favor of giving money to Planned Parenthood for those things? During his last campaign, President Obama, for example, made that exact point saying that cutting Planned Parenthood funding would restrict access to mammograms and other services. Unfortunately, it’s very deceptive and, frankly, disingenuous.

Planned Parenthood clinics do not even provide mammogram services at all. In sworn Congressional testimony on Sept. 29, 2015 Planned Parenthood’s President Cecile Richards testified that they will give you information on breast exams but will refer you elsewhere to get a mammogram (a place where you could get breast cancer education AND a mammogram) and will help you find places to get financial assistance to pay for it. However, they do not provide mammogram services at ANY of their clinics. Not one in the entire country.

And not even all of their clinics do cervical cancer screenings or PAP smears. What they do primarily is ‘family planning’, under which they include providing contraceptives, family planning counseling and abortions. Of course, all of these services except abortions are available through other Medicaid providers or through federal grants to community health clinics, etc..

 

We should at least be intellectually honest: any discussion about Planned Parenthood is about abortion. Always. It’s not about any other ‘women’s health’ issue, and that’s just a budget tactic.   No one that I know of is proposing any cuts to those services and those services are available in a variety of other ways and actually could be expanded in some cases if Planned Parenthood money was re-directed to community clinics and similar programs that serve low income women. The vote was about nothing other than allowing states to decide on their own if they want to make taxpayers help fund Planned Parenthood and, by extension, abortions.

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