By Molly Miller
For most of the past eight years, Republicans in control of both Houses of the Congress were generally unsuccessful in their agenda to defund groups which provide abortion as a family planning service due to Democratic President Barack Obama, and his tendency to veto any legislation opposed by women’s rights advocates.
Now, with what many Congressional Republicans believe was a mandate of the people, Republicans not only hold a clear majority of both the House and Senate, but additionally, they have gained final control over the Executive Branch with the election of Republican Presidential Candidate Donald J. Trump.
In the beginning days of the 115th Congress, it is becoming increasingly clear that defunding Planned Parenthood and other women’s reproductive health groups is one of the top issues of the conservative agenda.
Federal funding of Planned Parenthood come from two major sources: Medicaid funds and the Title X program passed by Congress to support predominantly low-income Americans and provide otherwise inaccessible family planning services.
Title X specifically prohibits any federal funds to be used towards any abortion of any kind. However, the Medicaid funding does allow for usage in very particular instances of rape, incest, or medical harm towards the mother.
Let me be clear: absolutely no federal funds are currently used for patient-opted abortion services at any Planned Parenthood clinic in any state of the union. In fact, only about three percent of the services Planned Parenthood actually provides are abortion services, although, this should not matter, as abortion is a completely legal, medical, and sometimes necessary procedure, regardless of what your conservative senator may have you believe.
The entire debate over defunding Planned Parenthood rests in this incredibly small, insignificant- and I’ll repeat once again- completely legal, funding of federal tax dollars towards medically or emotionally necessary abortions.
These are not women who simply become pregnant and on a whim decide to terminate the pregnancy for whatever reason; these are women who have experienced incredibly traumatic events such as a rape, incest, or a pregnancy which could cost them their life.
Defunding Planned Parenthood is not only distinctly harmful towards low-income women, but it also has absolutely no legal, statistical, or moral justification. Those who claim to be pro-life and are in support of defunding Planned Parenthood may either have purely political motivations or may simply ignorant to the truth behind where federal tax money is allocated within the clinics.
Amy Rooker, FSC’s President of the Planned Parenthood Generation Action club, believes that a large part of the fight against misconceptions and for women’s reproductive rights begins within our own communities.
“I think that misconceptions about funding for abortions exists because there is a lack of education.” says Rooker. “I can’t fault anyone for assuming that public funds would pay for abortions, but I do fault those who have knowledge of this and still perpetuate the misconception.”
The need for widespread access to contraceptives and family planning should not be a partisan issue. These are verified solutions to a plethora of societal issues, and if access is revoked, it could lead to unintended pregnancy which would create even more dependents of the federal government.
The misconceptions surrounding Planned Parenthood and its services are a driving lead for those in favor of defunding. In order to defeat these misconceptions, we must actively remain informed.
“The best way to create change is through the power of personal stories.” Rooker explains, “We are all unique and we all have our own motivations for fighting so passionately for the causes we believe in. I think that others will care more if they can somehow see themselves reflected in our struggles.”