Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Attack on Planned Parenthood could increase dangerous abortions

By DeWayne Wickham

How crazy is this? Abortion opponents in the House of Representatives and their allies among conservative activists want to stop Planned Parenthood from getting federal funds to provide family planning assistance to low-income women.

Their reasoning – their twisted logic – is that blocking Planned Parenthood from receiving federal support for the organization’s effort to prevent unintended pregnancies they will impair its ability to use its other funds for abortions. That was the motivation behind the House of Representatives recent vote to defund Planned Parenthood’s nationwide network of clinics.

It is “morally wrong to take the tax dollars of millions of pro-life Americans and use them to fund organizations that provide and promote abortions,” Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., said in a posting on his congressional website following passage of the amendment he offered to stop federal funds from going to Planned Parenthood.
Pence’s argument would be laughable if the damage his legislation could do, if it ever becomes law, wasn’t so frightening.

It’s Laughable because it is already illegal for federal money to be used to fund an abortion – and because If Pence really wants to dole out federal aid based on the level of support something receives from the American people, Spence should be a champion of a woman’s right to undergo an abortion. According to a 2010 Gallup Poll, a whopping 78% of Americans (28% under any circumstances; 54% under limited circumstances) think abortions should be legal? Just 19% said it should be illegal, a number that has not risen above 23% since Gallup first started asking Americans this question way back in 1975.

Pence’s disingenuous defense of his attack on Planned Parenthood is frightening because nearly half of all pregnancies in this country were not planned, and 40% of them end in abortion. Of the women who get an abortion, 61% have one or more children, and 45% have never been married and do not live with their sexual partner, And 75% of the women who have an abortion said they cannot afford a child, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which does research and policy analysis on reproductive sex and health issues.

Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest provider of sex and reproductive health care services, also counsels women on the use of abstinence and contraceptives as ways to prevent unintended pregnancies. And for those women who chose to end an unintended pregnancy, it provides them a safe and affordable alternative to the backroom butchery that more women might turn to if Planned Parenthood goes out of business.

A doctor who performed abortions from his storefront office in a Philadelphia inner city neighborhood was arrested in January and charged with the death of a woman and seven infants. His alleged gruesome practice thrived on poor women who were desperate to end a pregnancy. An increasing number of women will end up in the clutches of a badly run abortion clinic if Pence’s crippling attack on Planned Parenthood succeeds.

Shortly after the Republican-dominated House passed Pence’s legislation by a vote of 240 to 185, anti-abortion billboards went up in Atlanta, Los Angeles and New York City as part of the Black History Month campaign to decry the disproportionately high number of abortions among black women. A spokesman for Life Always, the group behind the New York billboard, said it was meant to discredit Planned Parenthood.

But the people who deserve to be discredited are those who would kill off funding for Planned Parenthood. In doing so, they cynically undermine its efforts to reduce unintended pregnancies - a goal that should unite us, not divide us.

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