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Double X: House Cuts All Funding for Planned Parenthood

By Erica C. Barnett February 18, 2011

As you are (I hope) already aware, the US House voted today to eliminate all federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which gets a third of its funding from the federal government. Note that the vote does not eliminate funding for abortion---US law already bans federal funding for abortions---but for preventative services such as cancer screenings, tests for sexually transmitted diseases, mammograms, pregnancy screening and counseling, and birth control.

Every year, Planned Parenthood provides nearly a million screenings for cervical cancer; nearly four million screenings for sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV; more than 800,000 screenings for breast cancer; and contraception for more than 2.5 million women.

These are, in other words, routine medical services that happen to be specific to women---the sort of services that are included in ordinary private health insurance (the kind Republican in the US House enjoy). Eliminating federal funding for these services, has nothing to do with being "pro-life" and everything to do with controlling women (particularly low-income women).

The inevitable conclusion: Republicans (and nine Democrats---care to guess their gender?) would rather see women die of HIV or cancer (or have unwanted pregnancies because they can't afford the $30-$60 a month it costs to buy birth control if you don't have health insurance) than fund an agency that gives women some level of autonomy over their own bodies.

Over at Slate's DoubleX blog, Amanda Marcotte has the best answer I've seen to the question of why Republicans are going after birth control while most Americans are worried about record unemployment. She writes:
The short answer is that the recent emphasis on fiscal discipline has opened up a new path towards restricting contraception access. Remember, funding is the common theme of two other bills attacking reproductive health access in the House, HR 3, the “No Taxpayer Funding For Abortion Act,” and its cousin, HR 358, the "Protect Life Act", both of which would make insurance plans that cover abortion ineligible for tax deductions. Anti-abortion activists and legislators have calculated that by framing anti-abortion proposals as austerity measures, they can bring along Tea Partiers and other fiscal conservatives. As [Rep. Mike] Pence [R-IN] has put it: “What is more fiscally responsible than denying any and all funding to Planned Parenthood of America?”

The argument makes no sense, of course---cancer and HIV and unwanted pregnancies cost the health-care system far more than cancer and HIV and pregnancy prevention---but it does give Republicans an opportunity to portray such services as a wasteful government giveaway to lazy/greedy/slutty people (women) who don't deserve them.
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