Tuesday, February 22, 2011

On a "victory" for "life"

Okay, so on Friday, your House of Representatives voted to, in the interest of protecting life, completely defund women's preventive health services. in the name of protecting life. In eliminating federal funding to Planned Parenthood, the House eliminates $330 million for services that have nothing to do with abortion and everything to do with providing essential health care to millions of women--many of whom wouldn't be able to afford any care at all otherwise.

To underscore the extent to which Planned Parenthood directs no federal funds to abortion services, allow me to note that Planned Parenthood directs no federal funds to abortion services. Regardless of your personal feelings about the Hyde Amendment and abortion funding in general, one unavoidable fact is that Planned Parenthood directs no federal funds to abortion services. So if your goal is to ensure that no federal money goes to fund abortions at Planned Parenthood, yay! You win.

But abortions account for a whopping three percent of Planned Parenthood's services. And that's one thing that bugs me about the ABC story linked above--in the first sentence, it identifies Planned Parenthood as an "abortion provider," which is like identifying McDonald's as a salad bar. It would be more accurate to identify Planned Parenthood as a provider of preventive care, cancer screenings, tests and treatments for STIs, contraception, and well-woman services, not to mention educational programs that help prevent unplanned pregnancies and promote health and wellness. But that's fairly wordy, and it lacks the dramatic punch implying an office full of white-coated Dr. Orloffs just itching to kill a baby.

It's time to come out and acknowledge that "pro-life" is seldom actually pro-life. Pro-life would mean funding breast exams and Pap smears that can catch cancer early and give women a better chance at surviving. Pro-life would mean giving women the information and medication to prevent unplanned pregnancy. Pro-life would mean providing the treatment and primary care that can help preserve a woman's fertility and see her through pregnancy to birth for a healthy mother and baby. Which makes it so amusing that amendment sponsor Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), who first unsuccessfully introduced this measure in 2009 and has been pushing ever since, calls the vote "a victory for life."

Show me where this amendment is about life. Show me the life in undiagnosed cancer and untreated illness.

This amendment has nothing to do with saving lives. This amendment is a vendetta against Planned Parenthood. It's a middle finger to reproductive health and all who support it, and the fact that millions of women--and men--will be left without crucial health care pales in the face of that righteous mission. It's a reminder that women often get to take a back seat to a zealous cause. And it is a wicked betrayal by elected officials who are called upon to represent our interests and have, instead, thrown us completely and uncaringly and unconscionably under the bus.

The overall spending bill is still waiting on a vote, and if (God forbid) it passes it should make it in front of the Senate before the end of the month. Start now contacting your Senators to make sure they understand the importance of blocking this amendment. Remind them that the time to take ideological stabs is not the time to play politics with women's lives. And remind them that they have mothers and wives and daughters whose lives could depend on the care that Planned Parenthood provides, and that this funding is about life in its truest sense.

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