In her Washington Post article today, “Side Effects of the GOP’s War on Family Planning,” Ruth Marcus hits the nail on the head. Even the first sentence is perfection:
House Republicans voted to increase the number of abortions, raise federal health-care costs and swell the welfare rolls.
Marcus goes on to beautifully articulate what so many activists have been shouting from the rooftops:
If anything, this assessment is understated. The sharper, and still accurate version, would be that Republicans voted to let more women die from breast cancer, cervical cancer and AIDS. How’s that? The family planning programs also provide cancer screening and HIV counseling to millions of low-income and uninsured people.
Let’s be clear about one thing. Almost none of this money went for abortions. The only federal funding for abortion involves the thankfully low number of situations in which poor women seek abortions for pregnancy due to rape or incest, or when their own lives are in jeopardy. In 2006, the last year for which figures are available, the federal government paid for 191 such abortions, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
As she rightly points out, the House is doing its damndest to punish both women and abortion providers for respecting women’s right to chose.
But again — and I will reiterate this until I’m blue in the face — this is not just about abortion. This is about healthcare. Planned Parenthood and other federally-funded Title X clinics provide primary healthcare to millions of women: pap smears, STI treatment, breast cancer screenings, contraception, pre- and post-natal care, etc.
If you want to reduce the number of abortions, how does eliminating women’s access to reproductive health services and contraception advance this goal?
That’s right, it doesn’t. As Marcus points out,
The Guttmacher Institute has estimated that Title X helps prevent nearly 1 million unintended pregnancies annually. The institute says these pregnancies would otherwise result in 433,000 unintended births and 406,000 abortions.
Please take note of the word PREVENT above. Not terminate, not abort, not destroy. PREVENT.
And if prevention isn’t your argument, try economics:
The inevitable result of eliminating Title X funding would not only be more abortions – it would also be higher bills for taxpayers footing Medicaid and welfare costs for poor children. Guttmacher found that every public dollar invested in family planning care saves $3.74 in Medicaid expenditures for pregnant women and their babies during the first year of care. Imagine the lifetime savings.
VERY well done, Washington Post. Hats off to you, Ruth Marcus!