On Wednesday, an exasperated Sen. Elizabeth Warren took to the senate floor to talk about Planned Parenthood and its services for something like the nth time. Her testimony was a response to the American Health Care Act’s attacks on funding the women’s health organization.
“I am sick of coming down to the Senate floor to explain to Republicans what Planned Parenthood does,” Warren said. “I am sick of explaining it provides millions of women with birth control, cancer screenings, and STI tests every year. I am sick of pointing out again and again that federal dollars do not fund abortion services at Planned Parenthood or anywhere else.”
She’s certainly right about that last part. Due to a little law called the Hyde amendment, enacted in 1976, there is no federal funding for abortion.
Which, of course, is in itself a ridiculous rule that endangers and restricts low-income women’s access to their human right to an abortion, merely to not offend the personal beliefs of some. I’ve yet to hear of a rule that prevents tax dollars from funding wars — you know, where actual born, living humans are slaughtered and maimed?
At any rate, Warren’s main point is that, given that Republicans’ main beef with Planned Parenthood is that it’s in the loathsome business of “baby-killing,” federal funding doesn’t even go to abortion services, so taking away funding from the organization is really just going to deny thousands of low-income women access to birth control, sexual health education, and cancer screenings.
But Warren’s most important point came later in her speech.
“Speaker Ryan called this ‘mean’ bill ‘pro-life,’ but this is just the biggest political play of all,” Warren said. “Calling something ‘pro-life’ won’t keep women from dying from back-alley abortions. It won’t help them pay for the cancer screenings that could save their lives. … The ‘pro-life’ label is the Republicans playing politics with women’s lives.”
On top of defunding Planned Parenthood, the GOP health bill would also enact provisions that bar abortion coverage, including prohibiting federal dollars from going toward a plan that includes abortion coverage and barring reimbursement for Planned Parenthood under Medicaid, according to Vox.
Combined with the lethal blow of stripping women of birth control, which, unlike legal and financial restrictions on abortion actually lowers the rate of abortions, attacks on abortion access aren’t “pro-life” — far from it.
Taking away a woman’s ability to control her body and her access to crucial, life-saving medical services because of your personal belief that a fetus has more rights than she does is not “pro-life.” Plugging in that deceitful label isn’t going to somehow stop millions of women’s lives from being ruined; it isn’t going to magically lower the nation’s maternal mortality rates, the highest of any developed nation. If anything, defunding Planned Parenthood will likely raise the rate of unintended pregnancies, and with limited access to safe, legal abortions, lead to higher rates of unsafe abortions — the very “back-alley abortions” Warren was talking about.
Without Medicaid dollars, many Planned Parenthood clinics will be forced to shut down, and the some 2.5 million people who rely on Planned Parenthood for services like cancer screenings and STI tests will have few options. Also note how the shutdown of Planned Parenthood clinics that didn’t even offer abortion services yielded an HIV outbreak in one Indiana county (thanks, Mike Pence).
And Warren is right about another thing: “Women aren’t fools.”
“We can tell the difference between reality and lies,” she said. “And that’s why we’re here, fighting back on the Senate floor, to stop the Republican health care bill.”
This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.