What do you know about Planned Parenthood?

~a column by Colleen O’Brien

Federal dollars are not used to provide abortion services anywhere.

This means no money goes to Planned Parenthood for abortions.

The use of federal tax dollars for abortions has been banned by law since 1976.   Federal dollars do go to this organization, $528 million a year (which comes out to about $10 million per state per year). The money is used for preventive help (birth control), treating STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), performing pap tests that screen for cervical and other cancers, and for educating females on personal health care and the ramifications of sexual relationships.

Planned Parenthood was formed nearly a hundred years ago — 1916 — as a nonpartisan, not-for-profit group to provide contraception and other health services to women and men; to educate toward sexual equality between women and men; to fund research on birth control and to educate specialists and the public about the results; to advance access to family planning in the United States and around the world.

Planned Parenthood is committed to protecting women’s health, educating teens and preventing unintended pregnancies. It is a worldwide organization used mostly by women who can’t afford to go elsewhere for medical help and information, as well as birth control.

Planned Parenthood spends three percent of its annual budget on abortions. The other 97 percent is spent on access to healthcare and contraception. Around 40 percent of their money comes from taxes; the remaining 60 percent comes from fundraising and endowments. They operate on a shoestring.

Several Republican presidential candidates have declared that one of the first things they’ll do if elected is to close down Planned Parenthood. A bill has already been introduced in the U.S. Senate to defund these health care centers because many of these folks in the Senate are angry at Planned Parenthood doctors who were caught on a hidden, carefully edited tape where they spoke casually about harvesting stem cells from aborted fetuses.

As a member of the opinion class, I was impressed by another opinionated writer who mentioned that we are all potential marks for being taped, videoed and edited into compromising utterances and actions.

I am not condoning abortion, stem cell harvesting or doctors talking irreverently about serious and controversial subjects. But, really, folks, we all live in glass houses. I would dislike having someone tape me, a woman who talks to herself and swears like a sailor when she drops the coffee grounds on the floor. And who is apt to carry on wide-ranging irreverent phone conversations about, oh, let’s say politicians. Edited, these chats could be considered by some to be not only mean spirited but scurrilous, possibly scandalous, maybe libelous. Despite the Patriot Act and every other person’s cell phone at the ready with photo and recording capabilities, I still believe I can say whatever I want in private . . . without condemnation or a bill against me because I get government money (Medicare, FYI).

I do get tired of the easily outraged, however. Or people who mind others’ private business so they can become outraged. Or those who perfect sanctimony in order to win air time on all media. Or those who don’t quite get the principle of separation of church and state. Jewish law for example says that life begins at birth; some Christians believe that life begins at conception. Thus, the state can’t get in on this, for if it does, won’t it have to choose one religion over another? This is the big no-no in our sacrosanct constitution. It is why many Europeans came here in the first place, to get away from state religions that they did not believe in.

Really, the folks I become most tired of when it comes to any talk of abortion are those who are gendered never to give birth but only to fertilize eggs.

I am not saying I approve or disapprove of abortion. It is no one’s business what I believe or practice. But I do wish I’d said what Senator Elizabeth Warren said recently when the bill to defund Planned Parenthood was introduced in the Senate. “Do you have any idea what year it is?” Warren asked. “Did you fall down, hit your head, and think you woke up in the 1950s or the 1890s? Should we call for a doctor? Because I simply cannot believe that in the year 2015, the United States Senate would be spending its time trying to defund women’s health care centers.”

Amen.

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