Planning ParenthoodBridgit Boulahanis
The Public Health Service Act, enacted in 1944, allocates millions of dollars in U.S. taxpayer-funds to a multitude of clinics across the country offering low-income individuals health care at little to no cost to themselves.
However, if a recent Continuing Resolution passes in the Senate, as successfully as it did in the House, low-cost healthcare will become a thing of the past. This resolution would transition law makers from passively ignoring the needs of their poor constituents to actively attacking their human rights.
While many medical centers would be negatively affected by defunding the Public Health Service Act, the main focus of this resolution is to eliminate funding for the organization Planned Parenthood. Mike Pence, Republican sponsor of the resolution, called the defunding "a victory for taxpayers and a victory for life." Pence, inspired by religious zeal, cites abortion as the main reason for seeking the defunding of Planned Parenthood. In his support of this resolution he is blithely destroying the wellbeing of the people he claims to represent.
Federal funding for Planned Parenthood totaled over $300 million in the last year and covered a third of Planned Parenthood’s budget. All government money, according to both Planned Parenthood’s annual report and government surveys, goes to STD tests, cancer screenings, pregnancy tests and preventative care for patients. For many of these patients this is the only source of healthcare available. None of the money provided by the government is used to fund abortions — meaning that the propaganda being spread by supporters of this resolution, that government money is being used to commit abortions, is completely false.
This money is what keeps low-income families healthy and college students safe. In fact, a press release from Planned Parenthood on the Pence Resolution claims that its passage would "cut off 48 percent of Planned Parenthood patients — approximately 1.4 million people — from their source of health care.” However, Pence and his fellow conservatives refuse to see low-cost health care as a necessity, and return repeatedly to untrue arguments that claim that the government is funding abortions.
The Pence Resolution has a multitude of anti-abortion supporters, including lobbying groups. One group campaigning in support of the resolution is The Susan B. Anthony List, an organization that claims to be a feminist organization. President and founding member, Marjorie Dannenfesler, has called for a complete stop of federal funds towards Planned Parenthood, calling it, “ the biggest abortion franchise in the nation. One in 10 of its clients receive abortions.”
Despite what Ms. Dannenfesler would like people to believe, this accusation is completely untrue. Sarah Stoesz, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood in Minnesota and the Dakotas responded, “That's a made-up number. In fact, it's about three percent of our patients are abortion care patients. The rest of our patients are there for basic reproductive health services, family planning, cancer screenings and treatment.” Ms. Stoesz’s point emphasizes the important issue here: people in low-income brackets need healthcare too, and that care should be universally accepted as a human right regardless of financial status.
Despite its apparent ease of passage in the house, this resolution is not quite on its way to being a law yet. If this resolution is able to pass through the Senate and become ratified, which most media analysts suspect it will not, the massive cost cutting measure can be expected all across low-cost clinics, including but not limited to Planned Parenthood. As a result low-income individuals, including college students, would likely be forced to give up low-cost birth control options and screenings without an alternative.
No matter what conservative congressmen try to sell you, this is not an issue about abortion, this is not a Republican vs. Democrat issue, this is not a women’s issue and this isn’t just an issue for us college students. This is a human issue. This is an American issue. We live in an America where the gap between the rich and the poor is enormous and grows every day. It is the responsibility of the affluent to, at the very least, ensure that those in lower income brackets get acceptable health care.
The Declaration of Independence asserts every man’s right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness — this is life. This resolution is jeopardizing people’s lives. If Mike Pence and his fellow lawmakers defund Planned Parenthood and clinics like it, they are cutting off the main, if not only, source of healthcare to the people that are the backbone of our country.
Even worse, if we, as their constituents sit back and allow this to happen then we passively give up our own right to life.