Republicans have been at war with women’s health providers for years. Planned Parenthood, being the most high profile of those providers, has taken the brunt of the criticism and attacks from the GOP. Republican opposition to Planned Parenthood has gotten so extreme that they recently attached a provision defunding the organization to a bill providing funds to fight the Zika virus. Of course, that caused congressional Democrats to balk, and the bill stalled, creating a potential public health crisis.
The war on Planned Parenthood isn’t just taking place in Washington, D.C. It is happening in state legislatures across the country, too, as extreme right-wing Republicans in those bodies seek to defund clinics that they see as abortion factories. But what they are doing is attempting to close down an organization that provides many needed health services to women, and for some women is the only option they have to receive those services. Abortions, despite Republican claims to the contrary, account for only a very small percentage of the procedures that are performed at Planned Parenthood clinics.
This past week, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) proposed a rule change that will protect Planned Parenthood funding from attacks at the state level, and the GOP can’t do a damned thing about it. HHS is an executive branch agency, which means that while it is subject to congressional oversight, its rule changes do not have to be approved by Congress. The proposed new rule says that under the federal statute known as Title X, states cannot withhold from any provider federal money sent to them for family planning purposes unless that provider cannot “deliver services to program beneficiaries in an effective manner.”
“This will make a real difference in so many people’s lives. Thanks to the Obama administration, women will still be able to access the birth control they need to plan their families, and the cancer screenings they need to stay healthy.”
Republicans are livid about the proposed new rule. Tennessee Congresswoman Diane Black, who sits on the House select committee which is investigating claims made in the manipulated videos produced by David Daleiden and his group, said this in a statement:
“This latest stunt from President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services should surprise absolutely no one. We’ve known all along that the Obama Administration will go to untold lengths to protect its friends in the big abortion industry. After all, this Administration has previously used backdoor maneuvers to line Planned Parenthood’s pockets with Obamacare navigator grants and praised the abortion provider’s ‘high ethical standard’ even after it was caught trafficking in baby body parts. Now, they have taken the unprecedented step of thwarting states’ rights with a shady proposed rule change that prevents states from funding the providers who will best serve their citizens.”
Republicans and “states rights.” They’re all for them when it’s about issues such as defunding Planned Parenthood, and completely against them when it comes to many other things.
Continuing to fund Planned Parenthood at both the federal and state levels means that many low-income women will continue to have access to breast and cervical cancer screenings, as well as many other women’s health services, including family planning. But Republicans, in their typical fashion, have reframed the issue to make it all about abortion. And when it comes right down to it, does the GOP really care about abortion, or do they just use the issue as a way to rally the base? After all, the Republican party is the home of Scott DesJarlais, the allegedly “pro-life, pro-family” Tennessee congressman who made national headlines in 2012 when it was revealed that he got his mistress pregnant, then pressured her to get an abortion.
This rule change will likely make congressional Republicans more determined than ever to block Planned Parenthood funding at the federal level since their cronies in state governments will no longer be able to. Which adds another reason to get out this November and vote this bunch of liars and hypocrites out of office.
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