The Planned Parenthood Debate
by Cody Gorman | Rutgers University
About a week ago, United States Senator Jon Kyl told a boldfaced lie to the American public and the rest of the Senate by claiming that abortions were “well over 90 per cent of what they do” (referring to Planned Parenthood). The remark passed through the Senate floor without any contention or debate from the men and women in the chamber. However, facts surfaced later and came around to contradict the statement from the Senate – as facts usually do – and frankly, the truth made a fool of Senator Jon Kyl.
What was released by the Washington Post in the following days led to public outcry concerning the inaccuracy of the Senator’s statement and the way the floor handled it.
The Washington Post’s graph depicting the actual funding for Planned Parenthood disclosed to the public the fact that abortions account for only three per cent of patient care provided by Planned Parenthood Affiliate Health Centers. The majority of spending and services by Planned Parenthood, as most who have ever visited a center or even the website could tell you, is focused on STD treatment and inspection, contraception, cancer screening, and other women’s health services. However, this didn’t prevent Kyl and many Republicans from believing the falsified statement and attempting to completely defund Planned Parenthood.
Since the passage of Roe v. Wade there has been a fundamentally anti-woman movement among prominent members of the Republican Party, hiding behind the ideal of protecting the life of a fetus. However, this is only the case for some of the more moderate, center-leaning Republicans. Of the majority, the movement is more firmly based in the religious aspect of the debate, with the idea that life begins at conception, and not at the point of viability, as Roe v. Wade holds. Not to mention the fact that if Planned Parenthood didn’t have to spend close to $55 million a year to fund itself legally in cases against states – which, to remind you, are subject to federal law – they would be much closer to self-sustainability and less needy for government aid.
The idea that at least a large portion of the pro-life movement in the Republican Party is more anti-woman than pro-life may seem like an inflammatory statement and may understandably offend many. I am speaking not of the modestly religious who have a conviction that abortion does, in fact, kill a fetus. Instead, I am speaking of the elected Senators and House members who voted into action the Global Gag Rule. Haven’t heard of it? Don’t worry: neither have most Americans.
The Global Gag Rule, also known as the Mexico City Policy, was a law signed into effect by President Reagan in 1984. President Clinton rescinded it in 1993, President Bush signed it back into law in 2001, and President Obama finally rescinded it again in 2009. That means that 17 of the last 27 years have put harsh stipulations to the aid given to foreign health clinics for women that often result in illegal, and thus unsafe, abortion procedures in third-world countries. In short, the Global Gag Rule prevented US aid from reaching any foreign health clinic if they used money to provide abortions, refer women to locations to get safe abortions, act to determine how many women die from unsafe abortion procedures, or even partake in any political movement to help further legalize abortion and women’s sexual health rights.
The International Women’s Health Coalition says that this puts foreign health clinics in a “Sophie’s Choice” dilemma, as they must either accept US aid and do a poor job practicing medicine, or refuse the direly-needed aid to do the right thing. This movement, which was a legal US precedent for 17 years (and may be signed into law again with the next Republican President), is patently anti-woman and invasive into the personal rights of sexual health deserved by women everywhere.
In a way, the ease with which Republican Senators have previously passed, maintained, and re-signed such legislation doesn’t leave me scratching my head when it becomes evident that the Minority Whip does not even know the slightest bit about Planned Parenthood funding- or whether or not it is in decorum to use “factual statements” when reporting on federally funded agencies.Cody Gorman is a Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies double major at Rutgers University. On campus, he is a fraternity president, a writer for the school newspaper, and a regular participant in Model Congress and Model UN. In his spare time, Cody plays guitar, video games, and reads.