Damn! Bad blog post timing.
I was all ready to get a good rant going about Republican willingness to shut down the federal government in order to prevent women from getting Planned Parenthood health care, then I see that a deal apparently has been reached.
Well, there's no reason to waste a rant, so I'll fire up my outrage as if Boehner hadn't come to his senses. After all, it won't be long before social conservatives and Tea Party types find another opportunity to display their anti-women ridiculousness.
Cutting the budget is one thing. Slashing Planned Parenthood's family planning, cancer screening, and sexual disease prevention efforts is a whole other thing. Yet eliminating all funding for Planned Parenthood was the central concern of Republican negotiators.
Contraception constitutes 35% of the organization's services, so obviously Planned Parenthood prevents many more abortions than its doctors perform (only 2-3% of visits are abortion-related).
Earlier in the day Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said:
“I think it’s really unfortunate Congress can’t come to a resolution on this year’s budget ... cutting [Title X] funding would increase the number of unintended pregnancies and increase the number of abortions, so the people who say they’re having this battle about abortion are actually not looking at what the statistics have indicated,” Sebelius told POLITICO Friday. “Federal funds have never supported abortion, do not support abortion, will not support abortion.”
So it's easy to see why many people view congressional Republicans as being anti-women. Why else was so much effort put into de-funding Planned Parenthood's health clinics which have nothing to do with abortion?
Anyway, abortion is legal. And as Sibelius stressed, no federal funds support abortion.
Yet the Republicans feel that if an organization has anything at all to do with providing abortion-related services, it is evil, useless, deserving of being thrown off the federal budget cliff.
That's dogmatism talking, rooted in the sort of faith-based know-nothing'ism that makes dealing with fundamentalist conservatives so irritating these days.
Earth to Republicans: nothing in the social policy arena is wholly black or white, good or bad, worthy or useless. Compromising. Flexibility. Open-mindedness. Embrace these qualities and the world will look a lot grayer. And more real.
I'm a vegetarian. Also, a non-smoker.
I don't like meat, and I don't like cigarettes. However, I have no problem shopping at a grocery store that sells these items to people who want them. Meat and cigarettes are legal, albeit unhealthy and to my taste, disgusting.
Likewise, I can appreciate how some look upon abortion providers. It's akin to how I see meat producers and cigarette companies: as purveyors of death. But I'm fine with people being able to buy their products.
I'm pro-choice. Republicans, though, want the federal government to dictate what sorts of medical services are available to women. These supposed libertarians are anything but when it comes to personal health choices.
By a 64-28% margin, registered voters oppose de-funding Planned Parenthood. Likely this had a lot to do with the Republican decision to give up on their effort to markedly reduce women's access to health care.
Soon the craziness will start up again, though, given the need to raise the debt ceiling and pass a FY 2012 budget. The good news is that the more Republicans go against what voters want, the better Democratic election chances look.
The bad news is that until the House of Representatives returns to a "D" majority, ill-considered budget plans are going to hurt our most vulnerable citizens.