On Feb. 18, the U.S. House of Representatives approved the Pence Amendment, a bill that would cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood. Though the bill is not expected to pass in Senate, it is upsetting to see this misguided political ploy gain so much traction.
Planned Parenthood is a national organization that provides low-cost sexual and reproductive health care to those in need. One service provided is abortion counseling, making it a convenient partisan rag-doll.
Planned Parenthood is too important to fall victim to unnecessary, ideologically-based cuts. To start, the influences of the organization reach far beyond the reported 3 million people a year that use the services.
It provides everything from contraceptives to testing for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) to relationship counseling. As any married, conservative, Craigslist-ad congressman knows, STIs are bipartisan. If anything can reach across the isle, it’s an STI.
Those in favor of the bill tout Planned Parenthood as free health care for unworthy beneficiaries. But it is just one of many health care services that the United States government funds.
Children, veterans and retirees all have access to federally-provided health care. It’d be a strange day in Congress when someone stands up and speaks out against the Veterans Health Administration.
In addition, testing anyone means protecting everyone. No society benefits from the spread of disease, and without Planned Parenthood, many sexually active individuals would not be able to afford or access such services.
It is this culture of denial – which says that abstinence education works, which says that abortions never happen in dark alleys – that makes Planned Parenthood such an important entity.
The proposed cut to Planned Parenthood is irresponsible.
Abortion is constitutionally protected and thus untouchable by Congress, and whatever federal funds the clinics receive cannot be used for abortions anyway. Nonetheless, the elimination of federal funding for pro-choice organizations means that the services will be more difficult to access. It means that their services will not be available to all who need them and it means undermining a woman’s right to understand and affect her own body.
Planned Parenthood is not a force of evil, it is a source of information. It is empowering through education and access, and it would be a shame to see its efforts barred.