The US Senate voted tonight to discard proposed legislation to remove federal funding from Planned Parenthood, a non-profit organization who assists Americans with family planning and health care services, including birth control and abortions. GOP politicians are foaming at the mouth after videos have surfaced allegedly proving that Planned Parenthood is selling fetal body parts. While various claims made by The Center for Medical Progress, the agency who released the videos, have been debunked, Republicans and their Christian Right comrades have been moving full steam ahead with what is likely their best shot in decades to cut or remove funding from the family services clinic. However, this knee-jerk reaction to propaganda videos might end up problematic if Republicans are successful.
Each year, Planned Parenthood estimates they help avoid 515,000 unintended pregnancies with contraceptive services. If federal funding was removed, and they were unable to prevent those pregnancies, who would most likely foot the bill to house and feed those children? The answer: taxpayers. The majority of these pregnancies would occur among those citizens that Republicans so often call the “takers” — families living at or below the poverty line. 79% of the families that Planned Parenthood serves are living below 150% of the poverty level. So in effect, defunding Planned Parenthood would take those services away and require more funding for social programs that Republicans already want to cut.
Aside from that, by law, Planned Parenthood cannot use public funding to perform abortions. That’s right, abortions performed at Planned Parenthood are paid for by a combination of private donations and patient fees. So the removal of federal funding would probably not affect abortions performed. If nothing else, it would limit or remove Planned Parenthood’s ability to perform non-abortion services, like testing and treating STDs, pregnancy tests, counseling and contraception. If those services are defunded and removed, then Planned Parenthood turns into abortion centers with no other vital services included, and may end up performing more abortions, since contraceptions services were defunded. Planned Parenthood estimates that 216,000 abortions are avoided each year as a result of the contraception services they provide. Only about 10% of the people who visit Planned Parenthood are there to have an abortion. The other 90% are seeking other services. Removing services such as STD testing and treatment, as well as contraception, would likely cause a spike in the spread of STDs, as many low-income families would no longer have access to prevention methods.
Unless of course, you replace the missing services with abstinence education. But let’s be honest… if the poster child for abstinence education can’t practice what she preaches, despite getting over $250,000 to tell people not to have sex, then we shouldn’t expect others to follow her advice.
Republicans don’t have a terrific history when it comes to their knee-jerk reactions causing more harm than good. This is an opportunity for them to learn from their past mistakes and fully analyze a situation before reacting to propaganda and related public outrage. Remember the Iraq War?