This past week, we had another threat against the healthcare needs of women and families. The US House of Representatives voted 240-185 to cut off all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides cancer screening, breast exams, contraception and abortions. The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) called it “a victory for taxpayers and a victory for life” by “banning federal funding to Planned Parenthood…“
But federal funding is already banned and has been for almost 35 years, due to the passage of the Hyde Amendment, more than three years after the Roe v. Wade decision. Not to mention that last year’s Health Care Reform Act also bans federal funds to be used for elective abortions.
But not all abortions are banned from federal funds. To those women that have become pregnant through rape or incest or in cases where the life of the mother-to-be is in danger of being lost, federal funds can and do pay for abortions. And even in these cases, it’s still a bothersome nuisance to the anti-abortion crowd that some of their tax dollars are going to pay for something they are against.
In 2010, Planned Parenthood received an estimated $317 million in federal tax dollars. In addition to abortions performed for rape, incest and to save the life of the mother [remember, the Hyde Amendment and 2010 HCRA prohibits federal funds for electable abortions], these tax dollars also provided pelvic exams, breast exams, safer-sex counseling and basic infertility counseling.
Supporters of this bill argue for those that don’t want their tax dollars being used for abortions. And if you are religious and/or have personal beliefs that oppose abortion, I most certainly can sympathize on some levels. They argue that any individual can come up with the money themselves to have the procedure done. But what if circumstances are such that something that was not their fault and there are not sufficient funds to cover an abortion? Planned Parenthood certainly has some private donors. And anti-abortion supporters, while still not happy about any abortions being performed regardless who pays for them, can’t stop private people from funding for those that seek a safe and legal place to have their pregnancy terminated.
But what about those children that are born instead of aborted? Unwanted, unplanned, conceived from a molestation, rape or abusive spouse or partner… regardless of how the woman became pregnant, abortion is a legal procedure that is, and should always be, left up to being the choice of the woman.
In none of these articles or arguments does it ever factor in the cost of a child born under these circumstances that may end up on some type of public assistance. I have heard several stories of children born into less than sufficient households where the amount of financial need [paid for by tax payers] throughout this child’s life is staggering. So if it’s money that’s of concern, why not also cut out programs that provide care for those children? If it’s really about where your tax dollars go to, then why stop at abortion? The average cost of an abortion at $350 vs. the average cost to of how much public assistance a child could receive [some average it’s around $11,000/yr] shows quite the financial gap, when properly amortized.
Again, those that are pro-life will argue it was worth it to save an unborn child from abortion. Adoption is a valid option in these cases. And while adoption is used a lot, regardless of other legal options, it’s not always the most cost effective, as adoptions can take a considerable amount of money and time to complete. Granted, at little or no cost to the mother giving up the child, but still the adopting party needs to prove that they are responsible enough to raise a child.
But let’s say the mother doesn’t offer up her child for adoption and factor in what kind of life that child may end up having if it ends up staying with it’s biological parent. Hopefully, it will be a good one. But depending on the living conditions of that child, what if it turns to a life of crime? Or runs with the wrong crowd? Or experiences abuse from others? All speculation, yes. But remember, from the beginning, this child was not planned.
Cutting Off All Services
Mike Pence will argue that this bill will “close the loophole that has forced millions of pro-life Americans to subsidize the nation’s leading abortion provider…”. But won’t this also mean that NO federal funds will go to any family planning services – including abortions done for rape, incest and to save the life of the mother? In my reading of the bill, all funding to any family planning center that also happens to perform abortions, will be pulled. So in an effort to cut off Planned Parenthood, they also cut off funding to anyone under the Title X part of the Public Health Service Act that was originally designated by President Nixon for the purpose of low-income individuals and families that needed family planning services.
In an effort to cut off the nose to spite one’s face, this is a big blow to family health care. Nonsense, say those who support Pence. Just pay for the services yourself. Stop using public funds for something I don’t agree with. Go get a job and get health care. All valid options that not everyone may be able to have access to. But not every HMO plan you get from your employer covers all of the necessary procedures that a place like Planned Parenthood offers. Paying individually for each one of these services can add up for anyone, including those that are at or below the poverty income level in this country.
And I’ve not specifically mentioned contraception and birth control, which also carries some levels of opposition by those who are also against any type of abortion. In the logical sense, preventing a pregnancy also prevents an abortion. Most get this, some refuse to [for varying reasons that boggle my mind]. And a place like Planned Parenthood provides counseling to those seeking options to prevent a pregnancy. While abstinence is the best way to avoid pregnancy, controlling the collective public’s access to when they have sexual intercourse is impossible.
Regardless of my position, I get why people are against abortion. I have never met nor talked to anyone in my life that was pro-abortion. It’s not always the choice we would want for someone. But that’s not for us to decide. That’s the woman’s choice. And since 1973, it’s legal in just about every state and in varying forms and circumstances. And while some may not want their tax dollars going to pay for any abortion, there are some cases that exist where having the child isn’t always the best option. I know there are many zealots, politicians and religious fanatics [mostly male, I might add] that don’t agree, but you are not the ones carrying this child. Again, the woman is. And in the voice of those women that have had abortions and why they had them, I trust their words over any male trying to legalize and limit their opinions.
Cutting off all federal funding creates new issues, financial, emotional and physical, where an unwanted child is born to an environment that can’t properly raise and support the child, turning to the government for assistance. Which is where this argument comes full circle: tax dollars going for something you don’t agree with.
It’s expected that this bill will not pass the Senate, but if it does, President Obama has already promised to veto it. So a temporary sigh of relief for those relying on centers like Planned Parenthood for family planning, but it’s not the last time this will be an issue. And when it rears it’s head again, I hope that more will be willing to think for the needs of the living, not just the unborn.