Standing up for Planned Parenthood

With the exception of Mary Bono Mack, California’s House delegation voted down party lines last week to revoke all federal funding for Planned Parenthood. Nominally, the move was to prevent federal funding from supporting the full range of legal, reproductive choices to which women are entitled. But thanks to the long-standing Hyde Amendment compromise, federal funds cannot fund abortion services anyways. And so this move — which will not reduce the deficit and will eliminate jobs rather than create any — is simply a direct attack on basic primary and preventive health care.

Let’s be clear. At best, the rhetoric about reproductive choice used by opponents of Planned Parenthood is an excuse; an attractive smokescreen. This is a fundamental attack on basic health services for underserved communities of all kinds throughout the country. It’s a revocation of access to basic breast, cervical and other cancer screenings, basic health exams, HIV testing, contraception and birth control for many millions of Americans- including an estimated 1.4 million who would be cut off from their health care by the Pence amendment.

And it isn’t as though other existing health programs for these communities are in a position to pick up the slack. Prospective budget cuts stretch as far as the eye can see, and wide swaths of our communities are already struggling to have basic needs met. Heck, San Diego doesn’t even have a county hospital. Against this backdrop, we have Planned Parenthood — a program with nearly a century of proven effectiveness and serving millions each year — targeted specifically because it’s been such an effective support mechanism.

Many lawmakers remain expressly opposed to the wide-ranging health care reforms passed last year to expand care to millions of Americans who have struggled without for generations. And many have already assembled long resumes of attempts to prevent women from having health care freedom and access in whatever form possible. They haven’t had much luck yet repealing or dismantling the reforms from last year, though they continue to try. In the meantime, they’re pressing anywhere possible to undermine the basic health infrastructure in this country- the pieces that provide care to those who insurance companies don’t find sufficiently profitable.

This Saturday, there are solidarity events for those who are protesting in Wisconsin for basic workers rights. And there are also events to support the vital work of Planned Parenthood scheduled in San Francisco and Los Angeles. You can also get more info on Twitter at @WalkforChoice

Grabbing for everything at once, hoping that not everything can be defended at once isn’t an entirely unreasonable strategy. But it’s unconscionable to cut off millions of Americans from the most basic of preventive care and life-saving screenings for cancer and HIV, from access to fundamental, legal and widely accepted birth control and contraceptives. Which is why it’s so important that we resist every time to defend vital elements of our community-health structure.

23 thoughts on “Standing up for Planned Parenthood”

  1. Sorry Mr. O’Connor but I am not buying this.  

    I have no beef with Planned Parenthood; they provide good health services primarily to those who would otherwise go without.  But why does the government have to provide a subsidy?  Planned Parenthood can, and does, raise its own funding and has revenue sources.

    St. Anthony’s in SF provides great food, shelter, clothing and other services to the hungry and poor of San Francisco to the tune of over 1,600,000 actions every year.  Yet they do it without 1 penny of government support.  They go to people and say “if you believe in what we are doing, please support us”… and people do so, generously.

    What makes folks like me upset is that Planned Parenthood has paid its CEO over $1 million a year (as recently as 2006).  The SF chapter lost its affiliation due to horrible greed and mismanagement.

    If St Anthony’s can feed the hungry without direct taxpayer subsidy, why can’t Planned Parenthood do the same?

  2. on a liberal political website. FFS, we’re talking about an organization that is not for profit. I’d like a link for where you read that the “CEO” was paid $1 mil. This organization provides services, the vast majority of which involve screening, education, and free contraception. The fact that they also provide abortions, a legal procedure, is irrelevant. They are proving health care. For women. That is legal. If your tax dollars going toward that bothers you, I’d like to raise you two wars and some environmental destruction in Gulf. IOW, we all have things we disagree with that our gov’t does, but I don’t see anyone saying, “Yes, you’re right. As much as I dislike abortion, a legal procedure, and believe I shouldn’t have to pay for it, so too should we have a list going for all the ethical issues everyone in our country feels strongly about and doesn’t want their tax dollars going towards.” Or is it that abortion is a special case? Bleh.

    The issue of abortion is not about abortion. It’s about who gets to decide what happens to an unwanted pregnancy. If you are supporting the state in having the power to force women to carry unwanted pregnancies to term and birth them, I don’t know what in the holy hell you are doing on a liberal political blog. That sh*t is not ok.  

  3. that if you were really, in good faith, as a person interested in advocating for women and from a liberal perspective, expressing issues w/ corruption, you’d have a lot more credibility if you chose to focus on the BILLIONS spent on corrupt govt contractors whose contracts are being renewed.

    C’mon. This is not about “gov’t wasted tax dollars”. I don’t buy that for a second and neither should anyone reading this. You might as well be going after kids and their wasteful ways w/ tax payer subsidized lunches, just throwing them in the garbage b/c they don’t like the type of cheese in the sandwich. I mean, after all, aren’t there some charities that could handle that need?

  4. The payments to Planned Parenthood fall under a general category of “indirect funding”.  This is a payment to an organization that provides services that the government would other wise provide.

    The government decides that it is within its role to provide various medical and controceptive services to the public and rather than develop a service within the existing bureaucracy, they pay Planned Parenthood to do it.

    It really has nothing to do with PP being a good organization or bad.  It has to do with the role of government.  Are these the kinds of services that fall within the realm of what government ought to do.

    I think it is.  We have a national interest in birth control, women’s health and, yes, safe and legal abortions. Im not sure I put this action in the category of “attack on women” because it is really a discussion of the role of government.  

  5. Our healthcare system is broken. Millions and millions of people lack access to even the most basic lifesaving care. Women and children make up a large percentage of those millions. But Republican lawmakers are fond of saying that everybody can get healthcare. They just have to go to the local emergency room. For starters, I went to the ER last year for a fast-moving infection that worried my doctor. It cost over $12,000 for that visit. How on earth could anybody who can’t afford insurance pay for that?

    Second, I dare you to go to the ER and try to get a mammogram or a pelvic exam. I guarantee you it won’t happen. Emergency rooms provide just that, emergency care. They stabilize patients and then release them. But these tests, and the early care they enable, save lives.

    Finally, other places where low-income patients could go are caught in the budget squeeze. The county clinic in my county has a new sign that says you can only get treatment for “life-threatening issues.” States all over the country are cutting back Medicare programs. And, despite the fact that more men lost jobs in the recent recession than women, that’s partly because women already held more low-wage, part-time jobs than men. These are jobs that don’t provide health benefits. Leaving women more vulnerable to health emergencies.

    While this is an issue for all women, it’s of particular concern for older women who are more at risk for cancer and need these screenings. But once we’re no longer able to bear children or arouse their lust, it appears the party of life has little use for us. They’re content to let us die horrible deaths to satisfy their pledge to Grover Norquist.

    I would like for all of them to have to look their mothers in the eye and admit that.  

  6. We should not be paying for other people’s abortions.  If you want to have unprotected sex, then pay for your own abortion.  If you want to eat till you are 400 lbs, then pay for your own stent, new knees, and all the other things you are going to require.  If you want to smoke, then pay for your own new lungs.  If you want to drink alcohol till you pickle your liver, then pay for your own new liver.  If you want to poke your pecker in someone’s arse, then pay for your own HIV treatment.  I could go on and on and on.  I’m sick of paying for everyone’s else stupid choices.

    If you get cancer through no fault of your own like breast cancer, have cystic fibrous, down’s syndrome, get in a normal car accident, get the flu, or are a child of a nutcase … sure I’m all for helping the community you – but I’m sick of paying for druggies, alcoholics, fatties, and the sexually irresponsible.

    We are broke — get used to the new America.  All Obamacare is doing is making sure the hospitals are going to be jammed with 400 lbs fat people, violent folks, alcoholics, and druggies, and people that don’t know which hole is for what purpose. — while my family is going to waiting in line for ages because my problems are less serious.

  7. I did, btw, pay for my own abortion. But I had it because the father of both my children left me ill, broke, and pregnant–with a toddler to care for and two jobs already. I may get cancer because the first man I was engaged to gave me HPV before anybody even knew what that was or that it caused cancer. I was having what I thought was protected sex. I was on the pill. I didn’t even know about the rest of that stuff in those days. So, do I fit your definition of worthiness for cancer screening? Or do my early mistakes doom me to death in your world? And why do you get to decide? Furthermore, why do I get to suffer the consequences when the men who caused them don’t? And then men try to tell me I don’t even have a choice about all of it! I’ve worked and paid taxes for almost 45 years. Why doesn’t my voice count in decisions that affect my life? Why can we spend billions on unnecessary wars, and not millions on needed healthcare?

    Before you start playing god, I suggest you try walking a mile in our shoes. And hope somebody shows you a bit more kindness when you need it.

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