The State Government’s Assault on Planned Parenthood and Reproductive Rights

Politicians in Indiana, Wisconsin, Kansas and North Carolina all voted to stop funds from going to Planned Parenthood. Indiana’s governor Mitch Daniels was even willing to reject Medicaid funding for all the state’s low-income residents than allow Planned Parenthood to receive a dime.

Arizona forbids trained and qualified nurse practitioners and physician assistants to provide abortions. Pharmacists can refuse to fill birth control prescriptions. South Dakota requires “counseling” and a 72-hour wait before an abortion can be performed. New Hampshire refused to renew a 40-year contract with Planned Parenthood. Virginia tried to shut down Planned Parenthood with non-medical concerns like size of hallways and janitors’ closets. Virginia nor any other state doesn’t stipulate hall and storage sizes for oral surgery or cosmetic surgery.

The infection of efforts to harass and confound Planned Parenthood has spread from state governments to the national level, as exemplified by the request of Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) for 13 years of financial records from Planned Parenthood.

Ardent opponents of Planned Parenthood may be playing with fire in their ignorance of the widespread use of Planned Parenthood services: the roughly 800 clinics serve about three million people every year. Planned Parenthood officially claims more than six million activists, donors and supporters nationwide, who can be contacted for political work.* This large network of supporters may become larger, because the Affordable Care Act allows Planned Parenthood to become a Medicaid provider, which will likely increase its reach by several million.

The family reproductive planning and other services Planned Parenthood performs have increased in recent years because anti-choice folks have shut down many of the stand-alone clinics that used to provide such services. The cruel joke is on the anti-choice forces, because when women stop regular checkups, they also are likely to stop birth control. Thus, closing down Planned Parenthood would likely increase, not decrease, the number of abortions. Kistina Page has written a very provocative book titled “How the Pro-Choice Movement Saved America,” in which she makes the basic point that the anti-choice movement has actually greatly increased the number of abortions performed in the United States. Her book will be the subject of a future blog.

*Elizabeth Mitchell, “The Genius of Cecile Richards,” The Nation, March 26, 2012.


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