Thursday, August 27, 2015

Taking The Coward's Way Out

Over the past several weeks the media and the ruling class of this country have been focused on the three ring circus that will ultimately elect the next leader of the free world. Lost in the entertainment value of this process is that we have a sitting government in place that has several weighty matters on its immediate agenda.

There is a contentious nuclear deal with Iran that needs to be approved, a transportation fund that is about to run out of money, a continuing resolution to keep the government open and the always popular raising of the debt ceiling. Oh, and there is the ongoing war against ISIS that congress has yet to approve.

These are important and complicated issues; each deserving of substantive and thoughtful deliberation on the merits. A thoughtful deliberation that cannot be achieved when an amendment defunding Planned Parenthood is thrown into the mix.

There is yet another conservative movement afoot to defund Planned Parenthood. The RNC talking points go something like this: The federal government funds Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood provides abortion services. We don’t believe that the federal government should be paying for the murder of innocent babies. Therefore we want to defund Planned Parenthood.

The conservative plan is to attach an amendment defunding Planned Parenthood to any bill that raises the debt ceiling, replenishes the transportation fund, or proffers a continuing resolution to keep the government open. The hardliners are willing to shut the government down if they don’t get their way.

What this argument lacks in matters of fact and responsible governing is only exceeded by its blatant pandering and ideological fervor.

Let’s take a moment to consider the facts.

Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of reproductive health services in the United States. According to its website, Planned Parenthood provides sexual and reproductive health care, education, information and outreach to over 5,000,000 women, men and adolescents. 97% of Planned Parenthood’s services focus on breast and cervical cancer screenings, HIV screening and counseling and contraception. 3% of its clinical interactions are for abortion services; roughly 300,000 per year.

Planned Parenthood is supported by over 8,000,000 activists, supporters and private donors. Roughly one third of the organization’s $1 billion in revenues comes from government grants and contracts. Planned Parenthood is prohibited by law from using any of its federal funding for abortion services.

Defunding Planned Parenthood will result in an increase in unwanted pregnancies and abortions as well as an increase in the instances and severity of breast cancer, cervical cancer and HIV infections.

I for one wish that the number of abortions was “0.” I wish that every pregnancy would result in the placement of the child in a warm and nurturing home. But in reality there are other factors that often come in to play. As a male member of our species I will never have to make that most difficult of decisions. I cannot fathom telling a woman what she can and cannot do with her own body; especially in a situation where the pregnancy is the result of a violent crime, incest or in those instances where the pregnancy places her life in danger.

Planned Parenthood has proven over time to be an essential part of our society. It has contributed in a positive way to an improved quality of life for millions of Americans. Defunding Planned Parenthood will have serious consequences going forward. Abortion adds a moral and emotional component to the discussion that cannot be overlooked.

It is for all of these reasons that any move to defund Planned Parenthood is deserving of substantive and thoughtful deliberation on the merits. Secreting the measure through as some sort of afterthought amendment does not give it the hearing it deserves.

So if Republicans want to defund Planned Parenthood then let’s have that debate. But let’s have an open and transparent discussion. Republicans should put a stand-alone a defunding bill on the floor. Debate the merits. Look 5,000,000 women and men in the eye and tell them why them why Planned Parenthood is not worthy of the country’s hard earned tax dollars. Have the political courage to stand up for your ideology.

Attaching a measure of this importance as an amendment to some omnibus funding bill is not only bad governance…

…its political cowardice.

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