Among the budget targets of House Republicans, one stands out as especially unfair and dangerous. It’s an effort to cut $300 million in family planning services such as birth control and contraceptive assistance to poor women.
On the surface the move appeals to notions of thrift and cost savings. But denying the means to avoid pregnancy will only lead to more births and additional medical costs. Avoiding a pregnancy is far cheaper than carrying one through.
So why is the GOP going after the federal family planning program, known as Title X, which has existed for more than 40 years? Because it would take money from Planned Parenthood, a favorite target of anti-abortion groups closely aligned with conservative budget cutters in the Republican fold.
Only a tiny sliver of Planned Parenthood activities is tied to abortion, and no federal money can be spent on the procedure. But this limitation isn’t good enough. The organization — and an estimated 5 million low-income women served by Title X — must be cut off.
A similar initiative lost in a budget showdown earlier this year. A Planned Parenthood cutoff was approved in the House but lost in the Senate, and the idea was dropped in a final budget deal.
In addition, Rep. Cliff Stearns, a Florida Republican, is demanding years of records from Planned Parenthood. His quest is for misspent money, lack of documentation and poor management, areas already policed by the Department of Health and Human Services.
His crusade probably won’t yield glaring errors, but that was never the idea anyway. What it will do is burn up Planned Parenthood’s resources and keep the erroneous notion of government-paid abortions before the public. It’s a shameful attack on women’s reproductive rights, family planning and sound public policy.
San Francisco Chronicle (Oct. 18)