Thursday, November 1, 2012

The State of Texas and its Ongoing Battle against Planned Parenthood

''Viva la vulva!'' photo (c) 2011, Timothy Krause - license:
Though they will deny it until the end of time, the GOP is engaged in a war against women’s reproductive freedom.  From ridiculous comments suggesting that a child created from rape is God’s gift, to the elimination and or restriction of clinics which offer abortions, it’s becoming increasingly difficult for a woman’s bodily autonomy to be respected. 

Planned Parenthood and the Texas government have been in and out of court for months over government funding. Last Thursday, Planned Parenthood lost its attempt in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to stop the planned defunding of its services and that of their affiliates because of abortion.   According to CNN, “The Texas Women's Health Program provides about 130,000 low-income women with family planning exams, related health screenings and contraception.”   On Saturday, Judge Amy Clark Meachum, issued a temporary restraining order, which inspired Governor Rick Perry to use twitter to state his objections.

Lost in the argument about choice is the fact that Planned Parenthood does a lot more than provide safe low cost abortions.  Planned Parenthood is a women’s health clinic where women receive free or low cost services for things like: pap & HPV Tests, breast cancer screenings, treatment for urinary tract infections, infertility, yeast infections & vaginitis, high blood pressure screening, cholesterol screening , the morning after pill, diabetes screening and anemia testing to name a few.  These are clearly essential services because 48.6 million people are currently without health care in the U.S.  Preventive testing and healthcare saves lives.   Thanks to universal healthcare, a Canadian born today can expect to live 81.38 years, in comparison to an American who has a life expectancy of 78.37 years.  That’s a difference of 3.7 percent.  The infant mortality rate is also lower in Canada, with 4.92 deaths per thousand to America’s 6.06 deaths per thousand.   Healthcare from the moment of conception, leads to longevity and greater quality of life.  That is what is at stake with the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

Though the GOP has framed this as a war about abortion, so much more is clearly at stake.  The preventive screenings done by Planned Parenthood aid in the detection of diseases like cancer.  The earlier diseases like cancer are found and treated, the greater the chance of survival is.  Problems that may onetime have been small medical issues, turn into life threatening conditions when they are not properly treated. When a person does finally arrive at the hospital emergency for treatment, the cost will almost always be exceedingly more and be incredibly more life threatening.  The defunding of Planned Parenthood is not only a war on women; it’s a war on the poor. This is most assuredly a form of genocide that goes unrecognised because it is happening to the poor and underclass.  Legislators, with their government health plan, don’t have to worry about making the choice between seeing a doctor, or buying food and paying rent.  

Even if we are to believe the nonsense that the concern is for the life of the child, the GOP’s resistance to a single payer healthcare system, which would insure that the 7.3 million children currently living without health insurance receive good medical care, proves that this is not about life.  The only health they are truly concerned about is the financial bottom line.  

Women have always taken their reproduction into their own hands.  Even if the GOP were to manage to overturn Roe vs. Wade tomorrow, it would not call a halt to abortions, simply legal abortions.  It would be a setback for women because it would lead to back alley abortions which are dangerous.  According to NOW (National Organisation of Women), approximately 50% of all maternal deaths resulted from illegal abortions during the first half of the 20th century.  The World Health Organisation calls unsafe abortions “the preventable pandemic.”   Worldwide, 19-20 million abortions are performed by unqualified people in unsanitary locations, which results in an estimated 68,000 deaths and leaves millions of women with lifelong health issues.  Whether abortion is legal or not, this procedure will happen and so the only concern should be about making it as safe and easy to access as possible.  A group of cells may one day develop into a child, but it is not a child until it can live independently from its mother.  What we do know is that a woman without access to good health care risks her life and at the very minimum her quality of life.  

There is no question that the defunding of Planned Parenthood is a moral issue.  The problem is that the GOP is on the wrong side of the moral right.  Respecting life should mean that women’s health care is a priority. Restricting access to Planned Parenthood for providing a perfectly legal medical procedure shows a complete lack of concern for the lives of girls and women.  In a world where women truly mattered, there would never be a time when women would not be trusted to deal with their own reproductive choices and healthcare needs. Setting up abortion as a litmus test in which people can decide where their taxes go, ignores the various ways in which tax dollars are used every day in a manner in which many may not approve of. Abortion has only become the moral standard because it eliminates the reproductive freedom of women.