President Obama has said that his final State of the Union address on Tuesday, Jan. 12 will be framed around "the big things" he sees as being priorities in the years to come, rather than taking a policy-centric approach to the speech. He has said that there is more work that needs to be done, and we agree.
Attacks on Planned Parenthood, both physical and political, are jeopardizing the ability of women to access contraception and other reproductive health care services. At the same time, political assaults on sex education programs are gaining momentum and threatening the progress that we have made in reducing teen pregnancies. It all adds up to a bad report card for 2015, and it could get worse in 2016.
Little noticed in the deal that Congress approved Friday is the fact that the anti-abortion lobby got wiped out. The deal included no provisions cutting funding for Planned Parenthood -- an issue on which Republicans have been prepared to shut down the government in past budget fights. Nor did the anti-choice zealots have any success on their other proposed riders intended to reduce reproductive rights. There were proposed cuts in federal spending for sex education, family planning and Planned Parenthood. Same with efforts to further restrict abortion rights in the name of religious freedom, or international family planning, or attempts to block the government from requiring multi-state plans to include the full range of family planning services. What happened? First, the Democrats stood fast with reproductive rights groups.
People don't forget these statements, and some even take them at face value. And why shouldn't they? At that level you would expect them to be accurate. This is not the case. Instead, we are seeing an alarming increase from irresponsible presidential candidates, as well as lawmakers, in hateful rhetoric and smear campaigns against abortion providers and patients over the last few months.