Feb 2011 22

by Damon Martin

When the Republicans took over the House of Representatives, it was with a promise to balance the budget and take back the old time values of our Founding Fathers. So far the GOP’s best efforts to reduce spending has been to try to cut funding to NPR and PBS, redefine rape under the law, and now they want to take away essential medical services from women nationwide.

Yep, that’s right, the latest Republican brainstorm was proposed by Representative Mike Pence of Indiana. It would pull all Federal funding from Planned Parenthood, which was given $363 million dollars last year by the government, and helped treat or give medical services to millions of Americans.

Started in the 1920’s by Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood provides medical services ranging from birth control to cancer screening to pregnancy testing and counseling, as well as STD testing and treatment, and yes – that word Republicans hate so much – abortion. While the funding from the government never directly goes towards abortions, the money does fund clinics who provide those services, and that’s fundamentally why Republicans are after the organization.

Shutting down abortions nationwide by any means necessary.

The law, if it passes, would pull funding to Planned Parenthood and 102 affiliates, which according to the organization, would in turn leave 48% of Americans currently eligible for receiving care, out in the cold.

Pence has said publicly that this bill is just another way Republicans are trying to reduce the deficit and cut spending. Looking at the big picture however, as was the case with NPR, the Republicans are once again trying to fix a trillion dollar problem by cutting pennies – while moving forward with other areas of their agenda. Republicans continue to target women and abortion in many of their “cost cutting” strategies, instead of looking at real problem areas that exist with the national budget.

For example, HBO host Bill Maher on his Real Time show last Friday night used a prop to illustrate the bloated expenditures that make up the biggest part of our national budget. It was symbolized by two huge pieces of chicken, a pile of mashed potatoes and a giant mess of macaroni and cheese, which represented the military budget, Social Security, and Medicare and Medicaid.

Federal budget tweaks have yet to negatively impact those areas, and, as a matter of fact, the defense budget went up again this year. Also just to note, the nuclear program, which encompasses thousands of weapons, doesn’t even fall under the defense budget, it falls under energy.

To compound the situation with regards to women and what Pence and the Republicans are trying to pass off purely as spending cuts, several states are trying to pass laws to take things even further back towards the Stone Age as well. In South Dakota, legislation is currently pending that would make it legal to kill an abortion doctor. And in Georgia, they are trying to pass a law that would change legal terminology in “criminal law and criminal procedure” in pre-conviction proceedings so that rape victims could only be called “accusers.”

While the Pence bill has little chance of surviving beyond the approval in the House of Representatives, it’s still should be noted that the Republicans are time and time again trying to take funding away from crucial services like Planned Parenthood.

Pundits from both sides have taken up the battle, including Representative Jackie Speier, who took to the Congress floor and gave her own emotional account of an abortion she had due to unforeseen complications with a pregnancy.

“For you to stand on this floor and to suggest as you have that somehow this is a procedure that is either welcomed or done cavalierly or done without any thought is preposterous,” Speier said.

Conservative mouthpiece Glenn Beck took an entire hour on his show on Fox News to rail against Planned Parenthood, and even went as far as accusing Planned Parenthood of sex trafficking. He also painted Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger as a racist and essentially someone who hated children. His personal attacks went on for an hour straight (although I could barely stomach 10 minutes of his drivel).

Technically, because Beck is so absolutely batshit crazy, he might actually help the cause of people supporting Planned Parenthood, so I guess maybe we should encourage his personal lunacy.

Despite the best efforts of the enlightened opposition, Pence’s bill passed the House of Representatives with a vote of 240-185. Of note, three Republicans did vote against the bill (Rep. Jeff Flake, Rep. Walter Jones and Rep. John Campbell). It will now make its way to the Senate where it will in all likelihood be bounced by the Democrat controlled caucus, but it doesn’t mean the Republicans won’t keep trying. Meanwhile the left need to expose the right’s backhanded attempt to destroy women rights under the guise of cost control. (After all, if a measure like this did go through, so-called “pro-life” Republican should be prepared to increase budgets for welfare and Medicare to pay for all the additional unwanted pregnancies and children cuts to Planned Parenthood might cause. )

It’s an attack on a woman’s right to choose in America, plain and simple. Republicans should stop pretending it’s anything else.


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