Opinion: Trump takes away Planned Parenthood funding
Student Voice Editor
Last Thursday, while cable news outlets were endlessly talking about the “mother of all bombs” the U.S. military dropped on an ISIS target in Afghanistan, Donald Trump, behind closed doors, quietly signed a bill undoing another rule of the Obama Administration.
The rule, signed by Barack Obama at the end of his presidency, prohibited states from withholding funding from Planned Parenthood and other similar clinics, simply because they provide abortions, according to The Hill.
Now, thanks to Republicans in Congress and Trump’s signature, states are free to withhold funding to Planned Parenthood clinics if they choose. This will have long-lasting and detrimental effects.
Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate in March, allowing the bill to move forward to Trump’s desk, according to The New York Times.
There are currently only 21 women serving in the Senate, hardly a majority. This means the fate of women’s healthcare lies mostly in the hands of 79 men.
All of the Democratic senators, who are mostly men, did vote against the measure. However, the only two Republicans to do so were women: Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, according to CNN.
It cannot be stressed enough that although Planned Parenthood clinics receive federal funding, they are barred from using any federal funding for abortion procedures.
This bill did not technically defund Planned Parenthood and other similar clinics that provide abortions, completely. But it was one step closer.
Republican lawmakers have long made defunding Planned Parenthood a rallying cry, gaining support from many on the religious right because some clinics perform abortions.
What they fail to mention in their efforts to defund a vital women’s health organization are all the other services Planned Parenthood provides, some of which actually aid in decreasing the number of abortions. Planned Parenthood states that its services prevent 579,000 unintended pregnancies every year.
The funding in question comes from the Title X Family Planning Program, which was “established in 1970 to subsidize organizations that offer services related to contraception, pregnancy care, fertility and cancer screenings primarily for low-income people,” according to NPR.
States can now choose to withhold this funding if the organization provides abortion services.
In 2015 alone, Planned Parenthood provided care to 2.5 million people, according to The Washington Post. Of those people, 75 percent were at or below the 150 percent federal poverty level. In effect, Trump has given states the authority to take away federally funded care from people who need it the most.
Let’s look at the services of an organization many states are now permitted to withhold funding from.
Planned Parenthood breaks down its services as follows: STD/STI Testing: 45 percent; providing contraception: 31 percent; cancer screening and prevention: 7 percent; other women’s health services, including pregnancy services: 13 percent; “other services,” including adoption referrals and family practice services: 1 percent; abortions: 3 percent.
The 2.5 million people who visit Planned Parenthood clinics depend on the federal funding that keeps them open for the 97 percent of other services besides abortions that they provide.
I continue to be baffled by Republicans and those in the anti-abortion movement who conveniently ignore all these important services.
Women’s healthcare has long been politicized. In 2007, Pence himself was the first person to introduce a bill in Congress aiming to defund Planned Parenthood.
Earlier this year, Trump said Planned Parenthood could keep its $550 million in federal funding, if they agreed to stop performing abortions, according to The New York Times.
Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, responded by saying, “We would never abandon women who count on us in exchange for cash.”
Women’s health should not be a political bargaining chip.
The two sides of the women’s health debate (because unfortunately decisions about women’s health is a partisan issue) see this bill very differently.
CNN reported that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, a Republican, called Trump’s signing of this bill a “major pro-life victory.”
Dianne Feinstein, a Democratic senator from California, said on Twitter after the bill passed in the Senate, “The effect of defunding Planned Parenthood will be that fewer women get health care. That’s shameful.”
I’m inclined to agree with Feinstein; it is absolutely shameful that Republicans restricting access to healthcare is considered a victory.
Abortion is a touchy subject, and people are entitled to their own opinions on whether or not it is wrong.
But Trump and Republican lawmakers are overreaching by withholding Title X funds from Planned Parenthood. Interesting, since Republicans often talk about unnecessary government overreach. They are associating Planned Parenthood only with abortions, when in fact its clinics provide other important services.
We have all seen the pictures of Trump proudly holding up a newly signed bill; this bill was signed without the press present.
Trump, ever the media fiend, not wanting the press in the room shows that the White House may not want something like this widely publicized.
He also signed the bill on the eve of a holiday weekend. It is possible that neither of these things is an accident. If there is one thing Trump knows how to do, it’s to divert negative news coverage.
It has been widely reported that Trump’s daughter, Ivanka Trump, is in favor of continuing funding for Planned Parenthood.
In a Fox News interview in 2015, Trump said his daughter was his guide on women’s issues. No word yet on where she was while he was busy signing the bill limiting women’s access to healthcare.