Could This Action Help Planned Parenthood's Fight Against Defunding?

02/24/2017 01:11 pm ET

The impetus by Republicans in Congress to defund Planned Parenthood, which entails cutting Medicaid payments and grant money, is a means to an end for legislators who want to outlaw abortion altogether. Pence is seriously obsessed with taking down Planned Parenthood. He has been on a years-long crusade against it, and literally started the whole defund Planned Parenthood thing. Trump jumped right on the bandwagon with his presidential campaign.

Of course they know that only three percent of all Planned Parenthood health services are abortion services, but they deliberately fail to make that distinction. And yes, they know that none of those abortions are paid for with federal funds, but they perpetuate this mistaken belief to keep their constituents in a righteous lather about “our tax dollars” being used to “kill babies.”

Wouldn’t it be great if they didn’t have Planned Parenthood to use as their punching bag against abortion?

On Wednesday, February 22, Rep. Leonard Lance (R-NJ), unlike many other Republican lawmakers in this congressional recess, chose to face his constituents in a town hall meeting. There was much hostility and booing as he addressed their concerns, most often with good reason. But something he said struck a chord with me.

Lance called for Planned Parenthood to spin off its abortion services into a separate organization to avoid federal funding cuts.

Now before you get up in my grill for even considering an idea sported by a white male Republican, know that I have long supported Planned Parenthood with my donations, and I’m in the thick of the fight it is waging with petitions, calls and postcards to my senators and representatives, participation in the Women’s March, and supportive blogs.

But I confess to having had the thought that if abortions were not a service Planned Parenthood provided, despite being a legal medical procedure, then a lot of the fanatical air would be let out of the Republicans’ over-inflated balloon.

After all, wouldn’t Republicans look ridiculously punitive to deny payment to a medical facility that provided contraception, STD testing and treatment, and accompanying health care, education and information?

Abortion was a major campaign issue, and the number of evangelical Christians who voted for Trump based on this single issue helped put him in the White House. 81% of white evangelical Christians voted for Trump. Seven in ten voters said the next president’s appointment of a new Supreme Court justice was an important factor, presumably because this judge could have a decisive vote in cases involving abortion and other social issues.

Dr. Richard Land, president of Southern Evangelical Seminary, said that he believes evangelicals were motivated to vote in unprecedented numbers because of Hillary Clinton’s record on abortion. Consider that 53 percent of women voted for the misogynist, while only 43 percent voted for Clinton.

So let’s not pretend that an awful lot of people who keep voting for anti-abortion politicians don’t have the power to affect the political makeup of Congress and state legislatures, who in turn are doing all they can to make access to abortion as restrictive as possible. And that includes defunding Planned Parenthood.

Take away their purported “evil” element of health services provided by Planned Parenthood, and their argument to defund it falls flat. They may try to tie PP to abortions even if it spins off those services into a separate, privately-funded non-profit organization, but they would have no substantive argument for defunding the Planned Parenthood organization. The two organizations would be completely separate, and the falsehood that many low-information voters harbor about taxpayers paying for abortions, thanks to lies upon lies, would become moot.

The time, money and energy Planned Parenthood must allocate to fight defunding could be used in operating the new organization that could possibly provide even more access to abortion for indigent women. PP’s resources are going to become more valuable than ever in the face of the diminishing number of abortion providers and clinics in many states.

PP clinics are being assaulted by angry, ferocious protesters every day that its doors are open. If those clinics were not providing abortions, the protesters would be kneecapped. I realize they would likely seek out those new and separate facilities for protests, and the harassment factor would still exist. But if the current Planned Parenthood facilities provided only health services, they could function more efficiently with less stress, and women could walk through their doors without experiencing vitriol, fear and shame.

In a safe and sane world, women should be able to obtain this legal medical procedure without being threatened and vilified. In a fair and just world, Planned Parenthood as it now exists should be able to continue providing abortions without having to fight defunding. But we are living in anything but a safe and sane and fair and just world, and Planned Parenthood is in danger of being extinguished. Like any endangered species, we have to adapt to our surroundings or risk becoming extinct.

Given the current political environment, it’s realistic to fear that the relentless, exaggerated spotlighting of only the abortion services that PP provides will strengthen the Republicans’ overall argument to defund it. If that happens, it may be difficult for PP to continue operating. If Republicans succeed in bringing down that bastion, their fight to overturn Roe v Wade is fortified.

Planned Parenthood is the tangible demon Republicans can point to, the bricks-and-mortar source of baby-killing they can use to infuse righteousness into their argument for Roe vs. Wade being consigned to the “ash heap of history where it belongs.” It escalated mightily with the fake film of a Planned Parenthood employee saying it sold fetal body parts for profit. Though that has been repeatedly debunked through exhaustive investigations, Republicans are content to let their constituents still believe that’s the gospel truth.

Planned Parenthood’s current abortion provision is incendiary fuel for Republicans’ anti-abortion agenda. Take that away, and they can no longer vilify this organization that has become the catalyst of their fight.

In response to Lance’s proposal, someone yelled, “That’s silly!” Maybe...but maybe not. Perhaps spinning off its abortion services to a separate, privately- funded not-for-profit organization could be a seriously smart thing Planned Parenthood could do to ensure its survival.

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