The Republican war against women’s rights and health took a drastic turn on Wednesday as the House of Representatives held their hearing about Planned Parenthood, which was titled “Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nation’s Largest Abortion Provider.” It is clear from the title alone that the result of their “discussion” is a foregone conclusion. Every single investigation into Planned Parenthood’s fetal tissue donation program has found no evidence of any wrongdoing.
Let’s be very clear here. Planned Parenthood helps over five million women across the world every year. The vast majority of what they do involve STI testing, gynecological health and providing contraception to people of both genders. They provide desperately needed services to low-income families and help keep dangerous diseases in check.
All of this means absolutely nothing to the Tea Party rabble who call themselves Representatives, who consistently have shown a blatant disregard for the well-being of the American people and for responsible governance in general. Their aggressively hyperconservative ideology dictates every move they make, no matter the cost to their constituents or to our nation in general.
Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) decided to up the ante on the absurd rationalizing being thrown around the chamber. The following discussion is the Republican approach to public policy in a nutshell, with Yale Law School’s Priscilla Smith.:
Rep Sensenbrenner: Could you please tell me why Planned Parenthood needs to get over half a billion dollars of federal funding every year when there are other pressing needs, such as feeding hungry children, that we maybe we should be putting that money into…The question is whether Congress should appropriate another half-billion dollars plus to Planned Parenthood when we could be spending that money on feeding hungry children this is a question of priorities. I’d like to know what your priority is: Planned Parenthood, or feeding hungry children?
Priscilla Smith: My priority, funding Planned Parenthood and the services it provides is equal to feeding children. What Planned Parenthood does is preserve women’s lives that are the mothers of those children. Many women to go Planned who have children and have families. Even women who are obtaining abortions, 60% of women obtaining abortions in this country already have one or more children.
RS: I think our priorities are very different.
PS: My priorities are planning excellent high quality comprehensive healthcare services which go to low income women throughout this country women who otherwise would become pregnant and need abortions. I would think someone who opposes abortion as you do, would support contraception to reduce the number of abortions.
RS: I don’t think there are any statistics which support that.
PS: There ABSOLUTELY ARE –
RS: We’re out of time.
Where to even start? This study from the Washington University School of Medicine shows that free contraception does indeed reduce abortion rates: “From 2008 to 2010, annual abortion rates among study participants ranged from 4.4 to 7.5 per 1,000 women. This is a substantial drop (ranging from 62 to 78 percent) compared to the national rate of 19.6 abortions per 1,000 women in 2008, the latest year for which figures are available.”
How about the false equivalency of comparing public assistance to hungry children or healthcare for their mothers as a one or the other option? Planned Parenthood received $528 million in federal benefits last year. Food stamps cost us $74 billion. Welfare for giant multinational corporations came to $110 billion last year, which doesn’t include the additional $90 billion kept out of the American economy and squirreled away in offshore tax havens. Where is the $8.5 trillion the Pentagon has lost track of over the past ten years? Our fiscal priorities are very misguided, and it’s largely thanks to people like Sensenbrenner for crying about fiscal responsibility and then slashing funding from social programs.
What is even more galling is that he completely dismisses Mrs. Smith’s attempt to bring up relevant, empirical data which proves him wrong. Republicans like Sensenbrenner should be ashamed of himself and his fellow legislative terrorists for besmirching our democracy with such primitive and close-minded demagoguery.
You may watch this travesty here:
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.