Vail Daily column: Planned Parenthood services are essential
One in five women in America have turned to Planned Parenthood for health care. I am one of those women and my thank-you to Planned Parenthood is overdue.
Long before the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare permitted children under the age of 26 to remain on their parents’ insurance plans, I graduated college and faced a year without health insurance. Not knowing where else to turn for health care, I visited my local Planned Parenthood.
Sure, the Planned Parenthood clinic I visited was not located in the best part of town — they go where the rents are cheap and the need is great. The waiting area was small and modest. The entire staff — from the receptionist that greeted me, the nurse that took my vital signs, and the doctor that examined me were friendly and professional. After only ever going to the student health center at my university and before that Army hospitals, I was thrilled that waiting times were measured in minutes, not hours, and that medical care could be delivered judgment-free. The doctor I saw was kind. I do not remember her name, but I will never forget her face.
Republicans demanded that Planned Parenthood be defunded, as though Planned Parenthood was a line item in the federal budget — it is not. Planned Parenthood gets reimbursed for services just like any other health care provider. What accounts for the Republican hostility? Planned Parenthood performs abortions. Abortions make up a small portion of the myriad of services Planned Parenthood provides — 3 percent. Furthermore, Planned Parenthood receives no taxpayer dollars for abortion services. Planned Parenthood provides health care for some of society’s most vulnerable, as well as penurious college graduates. Despite the fact that most of what Planned Parenthood does is deliver health care — mammograms, contraceptives, STD testing as well as education and outreach, Republicans want to punish them for providing abortions.
Republicans in Congress voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act/Obamacare 54 times, according to the Washington Post. They had seven years to develop an alternative to Obamacare. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the terrible bill the Republicans did manage to cobble together would have resulted in the loss of health care for tens of millions of Americans.
During this process one of the Republicans’ laments was that too few health care providers accept Medicaid. And yet, they were attempting to eliminate one of the major, low-cost health care providers that does accept Medicaid: Planned Parenthood. Last week their own membership would not get behind their bill and Speaker Ryan did not even bring it to the house floor to vote because he knew it would fail despite the fact the Republicans are the majority party.
Now Congress has voted, with Vice President Pence casting the tie-breaking vote, to allow states to deny Title X funding to Planned Parenthood clinics. Rep. Scott Tipton and Sen. Cory Gardner voted to deny funding. Rep. Jared Polis and Sen. Michael Bennet voted to maintain the funding. Title X is a federal grant program to states that funds family planning programs and preventative health care. It does not provide funds for abortions. Approximately one-third of Title X patients are seen at Planned Parenthood clinics. Nothing about this vote improves access to health care, prevents abortions, or in any way helps people.
Planned Parenthood began at a time when the distribution of contraceptive information was an offense resulting in fines and jail under the Comstock laws. Planned Parenthood persevered despite stigma and misinformation and has provided health care for American women for 100 years. As the author Margaret Atwood noted, “The control of women and babies has been a feature of every repressive regime on the planet.” Hopefully Planned Parenthood can survive the current anti-woman regime in Washington.
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