Planned Parenthood budget cuts are inhumane

by John Anderson

This year’s federal budget debate is heating up as President Barack Obama’s administration and lawmakers struggle to rein in our explosive deficit. One of the latest federally funded programs to be burned from the budget by a House amendment is reproductive health provider Planned Parenthood.

Proponents of the amendment object to using tax dollars to fund a program that performs abortions. In what sponsor and Rep. Mike Pence from Indiana hails as “a victory for taxpayers and a victory for life,” Planned Parenthood will be forced to fund its programs using private donations and fundraising if the amendment passes through the Senate. Fueled by their success, House Republicans are now campaigning to strip all Title X money — which funds family planning programs similar to Planned Parenthood — from the federal budget. Pence’s “victory for life” will cut off a group that provides essential health services to millions of Americans.

Pence and friends believe Planned Parenthood to be a sinner’s den, where selfish women go to murder the unborn. In reality, 97 percent of Planned Parenthood visits are in no way related to abortion. The services rendered in non-abortion activity — especially to the poor and uninsured — show the real value of the health center. Each year, Planned Parenthood provides women with hundreds of thousands of screenings for deadly cervical and breast cancer. It provides millions of tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, contraceptives of every shape and form and sexual education to millions of Americans from all walks of life. Planned Parenthood estimates that one in five women will visit one of its centers at some point in their life. Does cutting off funding to these programs really sound like a victory for life?

Pence and crew believe taxpayers should not be forced to subsidize the largest abortion provider in America. I admit, with a debate as incendiary as the right to abortion, it doesn’t seem fair to force pro-life taxpayers to pay for those procedures. Yet, we can all rest easy with the knowledge that Title X states explicitly: “by law … funds may not be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning.” Looks like I have another cause for sleepless nights — knowing the 240 House members who voted for the amendment haven’t done their homework weighs heavily on my mind.

The financial argument is equally shaky. Republicans base their economic message on the principle of slashing big government, burning up deficits and growing jobs in our

country. Why then, are said representatives zealously campaigning to put health care professionals out of work? In terms of the federal budget, cutting Planned Parenthood from Title X would reduce the deficit by $75 million. Compared to our $1.33 trillion federal spending deficit, such a reduction is like throwing a Dixie cup of water on a forest fire. Large cuts must be made in our national spending, but we need to look in other areas first to make the reductions as efficient and painless as possible.

Even considering cutting Title X funding paints a scary picture of the state of our national priorities. It is deeply concerning that in the face of a bloated budget the

services we look to cut first are cancer screenings and disease treatments. Passing this amendment would make our proclaimed values of safe sex and caring for our bodies seem hollow and meaningless. How important is a mammogram, really, if our elected representatives deem it to be less imperative than full body scanners at airports. Do we need to remind them an estimated 39,840 women died from breast cancer last year, and zero on airlines? Do we need to remind them there were 340 million new cases of curable STIs last year? It seems we need to remind them exactly how important family planning programs such as Planned Parenthood are.

I’ll be writing to senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein this week to indicate how vital Planned Parenthood and Title X are to our communities. I’m going to tell them exactly how I feel about this “victory for life,” and how I hope they will work with both parties to make sure such cuts don’t happen. I urge you to do the same.

—John Anderson is an international security and conflict resolution senior.

—The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.

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