As the nation laments yet another school shooting, this time at a community college in southern Oregon that killed 10, the topic of gun control is sure to arise again, bringing with it a firestorm of wildly varying, emotionally-driven opinions.
While details continue to be sorted out, all you can do right now is mourn the victims. Kids who were just trying to get through a day of school.
But today I am going to talk about a topic that has been the center of much controversy as of late — Planned Parenthood, or Double-P as … nobody calls it. The health care provider was almost the cause of a government shutdown this week, and the final breaking point that caused John Boehner’s ouster as House Speaker by his fellow conservative Republicans.
Republican lawmakers want to defund the $528 million the organization receives in government money annually — although not all of it is from the federal government — mainly because of the organization’s role in performing abortions.
Republicans are tenaciously against abortion, whether by their own moral conviction or merely capitulating to their constituents, and therefore have a natural dislike for organizations like Planned Parenthood. But their increased vitriol recently stemmed from videos released by an anti-abortion group that they said proved that Planned Parenthood aimed to sell fetal tissue for a profit. The videos were later proven to be doctored.
But here are some of the facts that people conveniently forget to research. Federal law forbids federal funds to be used on abortions, except in instances of rape, incest, or when the mother is at risk of dying.
Planned Parenthood said that abortions make up just three percent of the services they provide. That number can be misleading, though, since its patients likely use multiple services. Other estimates say that 12 percent of their patients receive abortions, and that the operation makes up a third of the organization’s revenue.
But Planned Parenthood’s primary purpose is providing contraception and protecting its patients against sexually transmitted diseases. Essentially, Planned Parenthood’s main function is making sure that women don’t get pregnant.
The organization serves mostly low-income patients who are on Medicaid. And of the $528 million in government funding it receives — which represents 40 percent of its annual revenue — the majority of that money is Medicaid reimbursements. In other words, take away Planned Parenthood, and these women likely have no where else to go.
According to a survey by NBC and the Wall Street Journal, 47 percent of Americans viewed Planned Parenthood favorably (as opposed to 31 percent who view it negatively) compared to just 29 percent who viewed the Republican Party favorably.
Voicing your opinion on abortion is obviously a slippery slope, especially for a male, which is exactly what we are seeing in Congress right now. Indeed, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards was subjected to a mockery of a Congressional hearing Tuesday that featured biased questions and skewed data, and was rightfully mocked by late show hosts Seth Meyers and Larry Wilmore on Wednesday night.
Also, Lemony Snicket just donated $1 million to Planned Parenthood. So there’s that.
Whether you’re pro-life or pro-choice, it’s easy to play devil’s advocate. On the simplest level, you’re either a baby-killer supporter or you hate women. But one thing is for sure — if abortion was illegal, that means a lot of extra babies are being born. According to the CDC, 18 percent of pregnancies in the U.S. end in abortion.
But the frustration here isn’t centered around the question of supporting abortion or Planned Parenthood, but rather that the rhetoric Republicans are using to denounce the organization isn’t even factual. And that is a problem.
And now, thanks to all this research, I am totally prepared the next time I knock up a woman.