De-funding Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Make Economic or Moral Sense

I’m fed-up with the inflammatory language surrounding abortion and women’s health issues.   I have no more patience with the “War on Women” crowd than I do with the people who stand outside women’s clinics shouting “baby killers.”   NONE OF YOU ARE ADVANCING THE DEBATE! Nor are you winning anyone over to your way of thinking. Instead, these folks are driving a deeper wedge between two groups of people who might otherwise find common ground in reducing unwanted pregnancies and promoting adoption. There are a lot of gray areas in this debate and it’s time we all start acknowledging that.

Indiana Governor, and possible Republican Presidential hopeful, Mitch Daniels is poised to sign a watershed law which will revoke all government funding for Planned Parenthood in his state.   I suspect that this is a calculated political move to earn points with the Republican base who strongly oppose abortion and who prefer the government not to fund anything (expect, of course, medicare, social security and the Pentagon).

The problem with this bill is that it may very well result in short-term political gains, but have long term costs. To sincere pro-life activists this probably seems like a victory for preventing the deaths of unborn children, but the opposite may be true. De-funding Planned Parenthood   is, ahem, throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Remember when we (liberals, at least) all had a good laugh about Senator John Kyl declaring on the Senate floor that 90% of what Planned Parenthood does is abortions when it turns out that the percentage is more like, oh, 3%? Well, here’s what else they do with that 97%: Pap smears, birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing for men and women, even testicular screening for men.

Cutting funding in the name of ideological purity could very well backfire. Low income women, the uninsured, and teens (including some of the “good girls”   from “good families” in your local high school - trust me on this, people) are the most likely to seek birth control assistance at Planned Parenthood. If that resource is taken away there is the possibility that more unplanned pregnancies will result. Those unplanned pregnancies   might end in out-of-state abortions.   If those pregnancies don’t end in abortion the best scenario is that some of those babies will be put up for adoption, but many won’t.

There is no economic advantage to slashing funding. The young mothers who didn’t get access to birth control are more likely to be welfare recipients. They are less likely to complete their educations. All of which creates a greater economic burden on society. Added to that is the controversial research by   author, Steven Levitt, who demonstrated a direct link between legalized abortion and a drop in crime. (Sorry, Rudy Guiliani, you can’t take all the credit). The outcome of Levitt’s study isn’t pleasant and it wasn’t intended to be an endorsement of abortion, but it does indicate that there are negative economic repercussions to outlawing abortion. The short-term cost savings may, in fact, be more costly down the road. Not to mention the preventative health care, such as cancer screening and STD screening, provided by Planned Parenthood.

By obsessing about the 3% of abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood -- WHICH ARE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE FUNDED WITH FEDERAL DOLLARS AS IT IS -- Gov. Daniels may be earning points with his base, but he isn’t doing his state any real favors. In fact, his actions may ultimately result in more abortions and an increased burden on tax payers. It may seem to the pro-choice crowd that this is a “war on women,” but really it’s a war on common sense.