Now that Planned Parenthood clinics are closing or suspending services in Indiana and Minnesota, the trumpets have blared, the angels have descended, and Jesus Christ himself has come down to say that even though the Bible says nothing about abortion, he’s pretty darn happy.
Oh, wait, that’s not it. Nope, now that clinics have closed, women and men won’t be able to access preventative health services, including cancer screenings. Way to protect lives, anti-choicers!
The Minnesota clinics, which didn’t provide abortions, were closed due to cuts in Title X funding. However, it’s not exactly a secret that anti-choice politicians opposed this funding, even though it cannot be used for abortions: according to Michele Bachmann’s office, “Taxpayer funds should not be directed to this heinous organization, especially at a time when our nation’s debt exceeds $14 trillion.”
It’s true that this country is dealing with a massive debt, and that needs to be addressed. But picking on the most vulnerable makes no sense. While I’ll spare everyone my rant about military spending and Bush-era tax cuts, I can’t resist pointing out that if the goal is to save money, then cutting services that provide affordable contraception and preventative health care seems to be a pretty ass-backwards way to do that.
The Indiana clinics will no longer receive Medicaid funds for non-abortion services (of course, thanks to Hyde, Medicaid very rarely covers abortion itself). While the defunding law went into effect on May 10, clinics had managed to stay open until this week, thanks to donor generosity; however, clinics will have to close for short periods as cost-cutting measures, and two of PP’s three STI specialists have been laid off. Planned Parenthood is seeking an injunction against the law; that decision is expected to come on July 1st. Meanwhile, adding insult to injury, the state has also decided that Planned Parenthood donors will not be able to receive a tax credit on their state income taxes.
Other states are eagerly following Indiana’s lead: North Carolina and Kansas have restricted state Medicaid funds; Wisconsin’s budget defunds Planned Parenthood; and Tennessee diverted Title X funds away from PP to local counties, even though the county where Planned Parenthood of Memphis is located has said that it might not be able to take over PP’s services. In response, the county has been asked to “think creatively” by the governor’s administration.
If the current defunding craze continues, we might all have to think creatively about how to access affordable, necessary, legal health services.
Sarah's first book, Generation Roe: Inside the Future of the Pro-Choice Movement, will be out March 2013. For more information, follow her on Twitter @saraherdreich, or check out saraherdreich.com.