On Friday, the Republican heavy House of Representatives voted to pass an amendment removing federal funding for Planned Parenthood. The amendment, spearheaded by Representative Mike Pence was part of a larger piece of legislation cutting federal funding to a variety of programs, but potentially none as crucial as this one.
I’m going to be upfront with you, I think this amendment is a horrible and misguided idea and I want to take some time to tell you why. I hope that you’ll be patient and hear me out, even if you disagree. I’d love to know what you think about it and why.
Planned Parenthood is more than an abortion provider. Planned Parenthood provides testing for HIV and STDs and they do so without judgment and without questioning the people that walk through their doors. Planned Parenthood provides birth control, at reduced or no cost, to hundreds of thousands of people each year. And if you really want to end abortion, the first step has to be birth control that is affordable and is given with education on how to use it properly.
Planned Parenthood performs pap smears for cancer detection, they provide counseling for victims of sexual abuse and they provide education and support to pregnant teenagers and adults who may not be able to afford it otherwise. And yes, Planned Parenthood performs abortions. I’m guessing that many of you knew all that already.
What you may not know is that even before this amendment passed, Planned Parenthood was not allowed to use federal funds for abortions, despite the fact that abortions are legal in this country. Your tax dollars weren’t going to fund abortions even before this bill and this bill doesn’t have any impact on their ability to provide them.
So I am confused by why a group of predominantly upper class men in government have any valid reason to withdraw funding from this organization. Planned Parenthood does not need to be punished for anything, they have not broken laws. They do not need to be scrutinized simply because ONE of the things they provide is controversial. To judge and punish this organization only for it’s abortion services would be the same as judging and punishing Republican Congressman solely for their desire to continue giving funds to NASCAR during a period of huge government deficit.
The bottom line for me is that there are better ways to save money and this amendment isn’t really about that anyway. It’s a subversive way for republicans to legislate morality, which is not what this country is about and it is not something I’ll stand for in my government.
If we truly want to save money we need to increase taxes, we need to stop cutting jobs (or at least pretend to care when federal workers lose jobs) and we need to focus our efforts on things that are more important than a personal vendetta against an organization that does a lot of good but also happens to perform abortions.
While the chances of this bill making it through the Senate or past a presidential veto are slim at best, the fact that those in the government cannot see the good that Planned Parenthood does, or the services they provide to people in this country, terrifies me. That we cannot see past our differences to support something that saves lives, that provides care to pregnant teens, that helps prevent the spread of STDs and HIV, that attempts to diagnose cancers early, tells me that the problems we face in politics are monumental.
If we can’t see past our differences and support something as critical as the physical, emotional and reproductive health of the people in this country, our deficit will never go away. Because a deficit of care, a deficit of compassion and concern for the wellbeing of others, is more severe than any monetary deficit could ever be.
If you’re as outraged as I am, there are a few places you can turn to lend your support to Planned Parenthood. Contact your Representative, Senators, the President and Vice President or tweet your elected officials here and tell them that you do not support this amendment. You can also Stand with Planned Parenthood here.
Katie is a 28 year old Southern Californian, married to a doctor, racking up as much student debt as possible as a full-time graduate student in a health science. Her hobbies include abusing parentheses, baking complicated desserts that almost universally involve frosting and loving her two cats more than is socially acceptable. She’s currently balancing her first child and graduating from graduate school. So planning and timing are also things she excels at. You can read more from Katie on her blog, Overflowing Brain.