The latest GOP presidential polls show Donald Trump leading the pack at 23 per cent, with Ben Carson in second place at 17 per cent and Carly Fiorina at 12 per cent. Both Carson and Fiorina surged to their current standings after a stellar performance at the second Republican presidential debate two weeks ago. During the debate, Fiorina threw her support behind defunding Planned Parenthood, claiming that a recent Planned Parenthood video prompted her opposition. The video, which was released by the anti-abortion group the Center for Medical Progress a month ago, featured a former worker for the biomedical research company StemExpress who allegedly saw a “fully formed fetus on the table, with its heart beating, its legs kicking.” Although Fiorina’s comments on the organization were later shown to be misleading at best and flat-out lying at worst, they added another log to the fire that has been burning against Planned Parenthood since the start of the 2016 presidential campaign.
The video geared up members of the Republican party, demanding that someone be held accountable. They grilled Planned Parenthood’s president Cecile Richards during a House government oversight committee Tuesday morning on how the organization uses its half-billion dollar annual federal allowance. The hearing was pretty heated at moments, with Ms. Richards being constantly interrupted while trying to answer questions by members of the committee over the supposed practices of Planned Parenthood. When Richards was confronted by a chart that supposedly shows Planned Parenthood’s breast cancer screenings going down over time as the number of its abortions skyrocketed, she asked committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) to double-check the source of the graph after she was informed by her lawyer that it was published by anti-abortion group Americans United for Life. Ms. Richards was grilled about her salary, with Chaffetz saying he doesn’t believe Planned Parenthood needs federal subsidies because of her six-figure salary.
If House Republicans do manage to defund Planned Parenthood, this would be another victory for them in their war against women. The alleged “video evidence”released by the Center for Medical Progress is irrelevant to the conversation over federal funding for Planned Parenthood, as the organization has been barred from using federal funds to perform abortions since 1976 thanks to the Hyde Amendment. Tax payers like you and I do not foot the bill for abortions unless in the cases of incest and rape, or if it is to save the mother’s life. Rather, it is private donations that cover the costs for these procedures. Since donations are not evenly distributed throughout the various Planned Parenthoods in the United States, some locations have more funds than others. This causes a significant financial burden among some women, especially among low-income minorities. Even women with medical insurance often struggle covering the cost of the procedure.
So despite what the Republican party and pro-life choice might have you believe about Planned Parenthood, abortions are only a small portion of what they do. According to their annual report, abortions account for only three per cent of their services they provide to women. Most of the services that the organization provides have to do with the diagnosis and treatment of Sexually Transmitted Infections/Diseases, with a significant portion of funding providing both men and women with contraceptives, thus preventing the need for an abortion.
This crusade against Planned Parenthood is based on nothing but misinformation, yet that hasn’t kept House Republicans from threatening to shut down our federal government (again) over it. 18 of them have told the Republican leadership that they will not vote on any spending bill that includes funding to the embattled organization. Though unlikely, Republicans have shown that they would go as far as to shut down the federal government to get their way. To me, this sounds more like the behavior of stubborn children unwilling to compromise rather than politicians prepared to lead our country.
The supporters of defunding Planned Parenthood are mostly Republicans who say they oppose abortion on religious grounds. These are the same people that support Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who became famous after refusing to issue marriage licence to gay couples. While telling to government to not interfere in their religious matters or force someone do something against their religious beliefs, they insist that their own religious beliefs be shoved down the throats of women looking to get an abortion.
Rather than being a religious battle fought for unborn children, the battle to defund Planned Parenthood is one being fought against women and their right to their bodies. If these Republicans were truly “pro-life”, they would support measures that provide better support and care for the mothers and their children instead of cutting funding to these programs as they so often do. This is yet another attempt for old white men to regulate woman’s body under the guise of religious liberty instead of allowing them to have the freedom to chose. If the GOP continues to spew this decisive rhetoric at women, they will surely lose their support– but more importantly, the election of 2016.