The New York Times
, February 06, 2011
Siege Of Planned Parenthood
By Gail Collins
As if we didn't have
enough wars, the House of Representatives has declared one against
Maybe it's all part
of a grand theme. Last month, they voted to repeal the health
care law. This month, they're going after an organization that
provides millions of women with both family-planning services
and basic health medical care, like pap smears and screening for
diabetes, breast cancer, cervical cancer and sexually transmitted
Our legislative slogan
for 2011: Let Them Use Leeches.
'What is more fiscally
responsible than denying any and all funding to Planned Parenthood
of America?' demanded Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, the
chief sponsor of a bill to bar the government from directing any
money to any organization that provides abortion services.
doesn't use government money to provide abortions; Congress already
prohibits that, except in cases of rape, incest or to save the
life of the mother. (Another anti-abortion bill that's coming
up for hearing originally proposed changing the wording to 'forcible
rape,' presumably under the theory that there was a problem with
volunteer rape victims. On that matter at least, cooler heads
does pay for its own abortion services, though, and that's what
makes them a target. Pence has 154 co-sponsors for his bill. He
was helped this week by an anti-abortion group called Live Action,
which conducted a sting operation at 12 Planned Parenthood clinics
in six states, in an effort to connect the clinic staff to child
aids and abets the sexual abuse and prostitution of minors,' announced
Lila Rose, the beautiful anti-abortion activist who led the project.
The right wing is currently chock-full of stunning women who want
to end their gender's right to control their own bodies. Homely
middle-aged men are just going to have to find another sex to
Live Action hired an
actor who posed as a pimp and told Planned Parenthood counselors
that he might have contracted a sexually transmitted disease from
'one of the girls I manage.' He followed up with questions about
how to obtain contraceptives and abortions, while indicating that
some of his 'girls' were under age and illegally in the country.
One counselor, shockingly,
gave the 'pimp' advice on how to game the system and was summarily
fired when the video came out. But the others seem to have answered
his questions accurately and flatly. Planned Parenthood says that
after the man left, all the counselors -- including the one who
was fired -- reported the conversation to their supervisors, who
called the authorities. (One Arizona police department, the organization
said, refused to file a report.)
Still, there is no
way to look good while providing useful information to a self-proclaimed
child molester, even if the cops get called. That, presumably,
is why Live Action chose the scenario.
'We have a zero tolerance
of nonreporting anything that would endanger a minor,' said Cecile
Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood. 'We do the same
thing public hospitals do and public clinics do.'
But here's the most
notable thing about this whole debate: The people trying to put
Planned Parenthood out of business do not seem concerned about
what would happen to the 1.85 million low-income women who get
family-planning help and medical care at the clinics each year.
It just doesn't come up. There's not even a vague contingency
'I haven't seen that
they want to propose an alternative,' said Richards.
There are tens of millions
Americans who oppose abortion because of deeply held moral principles.
But they're attached to a political movement that sometimes seems
to have come unmoored from any concern for life after birth.
There is no comparable
organization to Planned Parenthood, providing the same kind of
services on a national basis. If there were, most of the women
eligible for Medicaid-financed family-planning assistance wouldn't
have to go without it. In Texas, which has one of the highest
teenage birthrates in the country, only about 20 percent of low-income
women get that kind of help. Yet Planned Parenthood is under attack,
and the State Legislature has diverted some of its funding to
crisis pregnancy centers, which provide no medical care and tend
to be staffed by volunteers dedicated to dissuading women from
In Washington, the
new Republican majority that promised to do great things about
jobs, jobs, jobs is preparing for hearings on a bill to make it
economically impossible for insurance companies to offer policies
that cover abortions. And in Texas, Gov. Rick Perry, faced with
an epic budget crisis that's left the state's schools and health
care services in crisis, has brought out emergency legislation
-- requiring mandatory sonograms for women considering abortion.
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