Protect Planned Parenthood

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    Illustration by Rachel Edelstein.

    The debate about abortion is one that, even 38 years after the passage of Roe v. Wade, continues to divide our country and incite passionate debates on both sides of the issue.

    Resources for safe sex and reproductive health should be available to the general public, regardless of individuals’ personal choices. We can all agree on this, right? Wrong.

    The House of Representatives turned this logical conclusion into a fallacy on Friday when it voted 240-185 in favor of ending federal funding for Planned Parenthood, a nationwide organization which has provided sexual and reproductive health care treatment and education for nearly a century.The House supported this amendment because Planned Parenthood provides abortions. Amendment sponsor Mike Pence (R-Ind.) delineated his reasoning in a recent column for Townhall Magazine.

    “My amendment would close the loophole that has forced millions of pro-life Americans to subsidize the nation’s leading abortion provider, sustaining and underwriting the destruction of innocent human life that has been carried out in a massive scale by Planned Parenthood,” Pence said.

    But regardless of your political views, religious affiliation or direction of your moral compass, these proposed cuts to Planned Parenthood are egregious and illogical, since this organization does not receive any federal funding for abortions to begin with and because of all the valuable health care it provides to millions of Americans who otherwise would not be able to afford medical assistance.

    Yes, Planned Parenthood offers abortions. But whether or not you support it, this procedure is still legal in the United States. Furthermore, using this as a basis for supporting this bill means completely ignoring what this organization is about.

    In abolishing government aid for Planned Parenthood, politicians would effectively jeopardize the organization’s ability to provide women, men and adolescents with services such as birth control, HIV testing, cancer screenings, treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and family planning visits. Sixty percent of American women rely on family planning health centers like Planned Parenthood as their main source of health care, and two-thirds of those surveyed lack health insurance, according to a statement released by Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards before the vote.

    Without sufficient federal funding for Planned Parenthood, everyone from the bright-eyed, mid-20s newlywed couple to the frightened, pregnant 16-year-old will be left with little other affordable alternatives to turn to for their sexual health care and guidance.

    If tugging on your heartstrings isn’t enough, then consider your pocketbooks. In 2002, unintended pregnancies cost the United States $5 billion, whereas contraceptive use saved $19 billion, according to a study conducted by Princeton University. Add to that the billions of dollars that various forms of cancer and HIV cost this country annually and the figures are staggering. Comparatively, health centers like Planned Parenthood prevent nearly a million unintended pregnancies annually through contraceptives and overall sex education, and family planning has been proven to save the government $3.74 for every dollar invested.

    On the surface, cutting Planned Parenthood’s federal funding looks like a cost-cutting measure for a cash-strapped government. In reality, the cuts would cost more money in the long run, because of an increase in pregnancies, diseases and abortions.

    Furthermore, the $363 million a year that Planned Parenthood receives in federal funding is a drop in the bucket in comparison to the $1.1 trillion deficit that the United States currently faces.

    Instead of making cuts to social services that are integral for so many people, politicians could start by ending former President George W. Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthiest citizens. By eliminating these tax breaks for the top 2 percent of the nation, the government would save $40 billion a year and over $700 billion over the next decade, according to President Barack Obama’s latest budget proposal.

    There is plenty of outcry against this bill. A link that allows people to sign Planned Parenthood’s open letter to Congress online has been shared nearly half a million times on Facebook over the span of several days.

    The United States is obviously in serious fiscal trouble. But what 240 House representatives failed to recognize last week was that cutting federal funding from family health care centers like Planned Parenthood is just putting a Band-Aid over a bullet wound. It’s a quick fix to a long-term problem that will ultimately be made worse as a result of these cuts.

    The local Planned Parenthood chapter will be taking part in a national day of action this Saturday with a rally in front of the Pacific Avenue clock tower at noon.