Planned Parenthood: Women's health is being targeted as expendable

“If there's anything we learned yesterday, it's that women's health is being targeted as expendable in health care reform,” writes Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America in a fundraising email. “We also saw that anti-choice forces are working round-the-clock to roll back women’s health benefits. We will each need to take action many times over the next few weeks, and we need strong and public support from the White House to help us.”

The email was circulated among members of the group's action alert email list, but not published on the website.

The statement is entirely true: Women's health is being targeted as expendable in health care reform — in addition to men's health, seniors' health, and children's health. Drawing from their own logic, we also learn three important, and not very well-known, facts.

1.) The Hyde Amendment has not prevented taxpayer money from subsidizing abortions.

The group states that it serves “three million women every year through its more than 850 affiliate health centers across the country and has worked tirelessly on behalf of those patients for affordable, quality health care.” It goes further to say, “As a health care provider, Planned Parenthood is committed to passing health care reform that will guarantee affordable, quality health care coverage for all, including access to comprehensive reproductive health care.”

Currently, Planned Parenthood performs 62 abortions (305,310 abortions in 2008) for every one adoption it facilitates. In the 2007-08 fiscal year, it received $350 million in “government grants and contracts.” These federal dollars — your dollars — enable and offset abortion services at the very least.

2.) The “Affordable Health Care for America” Act will eliminate private insurance.

Planned Parenthood writes in their statement on the Stupak/Pitts amendment that the “exchange” would be prohibitive toward any policy in which abortion is covered.

The Stupak/Pitts amendment would purportedly allow women who want comprehensive reproductive health care coverage to purchase a separate, single-service rider to cover abortion. But such abortion riders do not exist because women do not plan to have unintended pregnancies or medically complicated pregnancies that require ending the pregnancy. These so-called ‘abortion riders,’ which would be the only insurance policy through which abortion care could be covered in the ‘exchange,’ are discriminatory and illogical. Proposing a separate ‘abortion rider’ or ‘single-service plan’ is tantamount to banning abortion coverage since no insurance company would offer such a policy.

In fact, this is a good point. Private insurance, not merely that which would cover abortion services, would be crowded out severely by the new insurance market offered in the bill.

3.) The organization uses tax dollars to lobby for abortion, and for more tax dollars.

It should be disconcerting for anyone, regardless of their political stripe, that an organization receiving federal dollars should spend those dollars, or have those dollars offset, lobbying Congress for more money. This is true of defense contractors, and it is true of Planned Parenthood.

The measures discussed in health care reform are not about banning or even restricting access on a moral basis. It's about whether federal funding ought to go towards abortion. Allowing women “access to” abortion services is not the same thing as making it illegal. This begs the question: If low-income women cannot afford abortion, are they not prohibited from it? Yet that question is misleading. For that access to be granted, other taxpayers will have to pay for it. Every taxpayer is protected by a public fund for national defense. Not every taxpayer is protected by (or wants) a public fund for abortion.

Amy Siskind of The New Agenda suggests that this is such a critical issue, women's groups like Planned Parenthood and other reproductive “rights” organizations should mobilize against the bill, going so far as to suggest:

“The leaders of women's groups devoted to choice should immediately set up meetings with Michael Steele, Chair of the RNC, to make their pitch. While opinions in our country are split on abortion, most believe that this a personal decision.”

This amendment makes for some strange bedfellows. No pun intended.

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