To the Pro-Life Crusaders: Think before you de-fund

One of my supporters recently commented on a post that ended up popping up on my Facebook feed. Unfortunately, I cannot find the original post, but it was from an anti-abortion group posting a petition against the regulation the Obama administration issued that would prevent state law makers from cutting federal funding for Planned Parenthood or other clinics. The rule hasn’t gone into effect (yet), but it has already received outrage from pro-life advocates demanding that Trump reverse it once he’s sworn into office. The petition claims Planned Parenthood performs 323,000 abortions per year and half a billion of our tax dollars goes into funding abortions while the group posting the petition called Obama’s regulation protecting Planned Parenthood funds a “pro-abortion move”. Comments from pro-life Facebook users wished to defund Planned Parenthood and stop our tax dollars from being used to fund “the murder of children”.

But fear not, oh, Mighty Crusaders for the Unborn! Your tax dollars aren’t funding the slaughter of the precious little gifts from your God thanks to a piece of legislature known as the Hyde Amendment.

The original Hyde Amendment was passed in 1976, three years after Roe v. Wade. Its purpose is to bar federal funds from being used to pay for elective abortions. Current versions of the law were written to include two exceptions: when the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest and when a pregnancy risks death of the mother.

Technically your tax dollars could be paying for the small percentage of abortions for women who are likely to die from their pregnancy and women who were raped. Yet these are exceptions pro-life advocates have made in regards to abortion. While the pro-life group is divided on rape and incest, most pro-lifers seem to agree that terminating a pregnancy is perfectly acceptable if medically necessary to save the mother’s life.

Unless a woman falls under these specific circumstances, a woman wishing to get an abortion has to pay out of her own pocket. So relax, Mighty Crusaders! Your tax dollars aren’t funding abortions for the women you view as irresponsible whores who don’t want to be inconvenienced with God’s gift of child birth.

However, your tax dollars are being put into family planning funding programs like Title X, which is the federal funding Obama’s regulation is protecting from being cut from places like Planned Parenthood.

Enacted by Richard Nixon in 1970, Title X helps provide low income and the uninsured with access to family planning and preventive health services. Title X’s own rules on how it can be used strictly forbid Title X funding from being used to pay for abortions. What it does help pay for are services like contraceptives, STD testing and treatment, and cancer screenings.

Title X and other federal funds designed for family planning pays for these services; not abortions.

What Obama’s regulation would do is require state and local governments to distribute funds for family planning and reproductive health services to qualified health providers regardless of whether they also provide abortions. It doesn’t apply to just Planned Parenthood, though it has been the main focus of the news surrounding this ruling because of it being a major abortion provider in addition to its family planning services. States wouldn’t be able to discriminate against ANY health care provider that receives funds to provide such services to low income or uninsured people.

So, Mighty Crusaders, when you cry out “DEFUND PLANNED PARENTHOOD”, you’re not taking a stand for life by trying to eliminate funds that go towards abortion. The reality is you’re actually suggesting eliminating funds that allow under privileged individuals to obtain reproductive health services and contraceptives they may not be able to afford on their own.

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Cancer screenings, contraceptives, treatments and testing…

Plus, the move may cause more damage to your anti-abortion goals than you realize.

Let’s use my reproductive health clinic as an example. In 2014, it’s estimated that between all its locations, Essential Health Clinic prevented 1,200 unintended pregnancies. Statically, about 400 of those unintended pregnancies would have been terminated had they not been prevented.

Let that sink in for a moment: 400 abortions were potentially avoided because seven women’s clinic locations in rural mid-western Wisconsin offered contraceptives to thanks to federal funding like Title X.

Now put that on a national scale. The Guttmacher Institute estimates that in that same year (2014) publicly funded family planning services from all sources (including safety-net centers and private doctors who accept Medicaid) helped women to avoid 678,000 abortions that year. Services provided at Title X supported centers alone like Essential Health helped prevent an estimated 326,000 of those abortions.

In addition, family planning funding like Title X is helping to save tax dollars. In 2010, every dollar invested in publicly funded family planning services saved $7 in Medicaid expenditures that would otherwise have been needed to pay the medical costs of the unintended pregnancies, delivery, and early childhood care.

Furthermore, for 40% of the women who obtained care at a family planning center specializing in the provision of contraceptive care, that center was their only source of healthcare.

Maybe some of you Crusaders are thinking, “We only want to stop funding to just Planned Parenthood because they do abortions.” But would it really end with Planned Parenthood?

Not all Planned Parenthood locations even offer abortion, but pro-lifers want to defund the whole organization. We have anti-abortion protesters outside my clinic because the clinic has abortion information for clients and the protesters have a deep seeded belief that the hospital Essential Health is affiliated with performs elective abortions in secret. Some pro-lifers think certain birth control like the pill and Plan B are abortifacients. Some believe women should wait to have sex until she finds a good man to marry and reproduce with (or being abstinent forever if she doesn’t desire children). Some believe family planning services promote sexual promiscuity that can lead to pregnancies that end in abortion.

So would the Protectors of the Unborn only target places like Planned Parenthood that perform abortions in addition to its family planning and reproductive health services or would they go further? How far would they go with “defunding” campaigns? Would they march beyond the places that double as abortion providers and target the places that don’t perform abortions, but offer information on it as part of its pregnancy counseling? Would they attack places that are affiliated with health care networks they suspected of secretly providing abortions under the radar? Would they continue onward to places that offer birth control they believe—not facts or medical studies—cause abortions? Would they go further than that and focus on clinics that they think for one reason or another are promoting a sexual lifestyle that defies a traditional, Christian marriage?

It seems extreme, but conservative pro-life law makers have been continually chipping away at reproductive rights for years with laws that restrict access to abortion for women or force providers to shut down, gutting state family planning funding for reproductive health clinics, allowing religious employers to deny birth control coverage in its insurance, attempting to dismantle Title X funding, and funneling millions of tax dollars into the deceptive faith-based crisis pregnancy centers that give misinformation and scare tactics to women seeking help with their pregnancies. It doesn’t seem like that much of a long shot that pro-life advocates would continue fighting until women don’t have much of a choice in their reproductive health and family planning clinics are nothing more than glorified crisis pregnancy centers telling women their only options are giving birth and keeping her legs closed until she finds a husband to procreate with because that what God wants.

Obama’s regulation may help to prevent pro-life groups from rallying behind pro-life conservative law makers and cutting funding to women’s health clinics that didn’t meet their demands.

It makes sense that one of the final regulations put forth by Obama administration would prevent family planning clinics from getting their funding cut. The Republicans, a party not seen as being for women’s rights, will officially have control of both sides of Congress and the White House come January 20th when Trump is sworn into office. The new Congress is already sworn in and immediately Republicans stated plans to defund Planned Parenthood and repeal Obamacare. Trump’s administration has already made promises to continue the Republican tradition of trampling all over women’s reproductive rights. Future VP Mike Pence, who signed every anti-abortion law to come across his desk while governor and poured money into an anti-abortion group, stated that the Trump presidency would work to reverse the birth control mandate requiring insurance companies to provide birth control in their coverage. Trump himself has expressed plans to defund Planned Parenthood and electing Supreme Court Justices that would turn over Roe v. Wade.

Obama seems to be doing what he can while he’s still president before the Republicans stage their full frontal attack on reproductive rights on behalf of pro-life groups. Because pro-life advocates refuse to see how cutting funding to family planning centers like Planned Parenthood could have serious ramifications. They don’t think that abortions and unintended pregnancies would likely increase without access to birth control or that tax dollar spending would increase if there were more babies being born to low income families who need financial assistance in caring for them. They act like they’re for women, but don’t seem to care that lot of women would suddenly be without healthcare when clinics shut down due to funding cuts. To be honest, they’re probably too busy cheering whenever a Planned Parenthood closes or praising God when a low income clinic drastically cuts its hours to notice the women who depend on these places for their contraceptives, exams, and treatments.

When it comes down to it, the campaign to “Defund Planned Parenthood” doesn’t seem very “pro-life” at all since pro-lifers don’t think of the impact it would have on lives.

If the Mighty Crusaders for the Unborn were truly pro-life, they would think before they defund.

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