In the midst of recently released, heavily-edited videos purporting to show that Planned Parenthood is profiting from the sale of aborted fetal tissue, Republicans have found an opening to renew their attack on the organization, and on the legality of abortion broadly.
Despite the fact that abortion is estimated to account for a small percentage of Planned Parenthood’s services, and despite the fact that it is quite well known that shutting down services which provide birth control and other care to women who are sexually active will increase the rate of unintended pregnancies, and thus abortions, not to mention sexually transmitted diseases and cancer, the Right indefatigably plows ahead.
In short, ignorance of the facts is a precondition for attacks on women’s health services.
Elizabeth Warren, in an impassioned speech before Congress, attempted to address this ignorance, citing the history of Republican attacks on women’s health in general.
The speech was given on Monday, prior to the Senate’s vote to defund Planned Parenthood, which failed to reach the sixty necessary votes, by a narrow margin.
Let’s go through some of the history that Warren addressed throughout the speech.
- “In 2013, Republicans threatened to shut down the government unless they could change the law to let employers deny women access to birth control.”
Indeed they did. Needless to say, denying women access to birth control would increase the rate of abortions. Tell me: who is pro-abortion, again?
- “In March of this year, Republicans held up a non-controversial, bipartisan bill to stop human trafficking. Why? Because they demanded new anti-abortion restrictions to cover private funding meant to help the victims of human trafficking.”
Indeed they did, although Warren’s wording could have been better. It was actually the Democrats who blocked the bill, as it included a provision that restricted access to abortion.
- “In June, House Republicans passed a budget eliminating funding for the Title X family planning program, the only federal grant program that provides birth control, HIV tests, STD screening, and other preventive services for poor and uninsured people.”
Indeed they did. It is estimated that services provided by Title X have helped to prevent one million unintended pregnancies and 345,000 abortions. If Republicans had their way, this program would not exist. Once again: Who is pro-abortion?
- “Over the past few years, Republicans have voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act more than fifty times, including the portions that require insurers to cover contraception.”
Indeed they have. A study has found that the portion of the ACA that covers contraception has drastically reduced out-of-pocket spending on birth control, thus removing a “major obstacle” (cost) women in the past faced in attempting to prevent unintended pregnancies.
- “And let’s be clear: It’s not just Congress. Over the past five years, Republican state legislators have passed nearly 300 new restrictions on abortion access. This year alone, Republican state legislators have passed more than 50 new restrictions on women’s access to legal healthcare.”
Warren has framed the conversation correctly: Republicans insist that their vote to defund Planned Parenthood is about the purported sale of fetal tissue and abortion generally, but it is about far more than that.
Defunding Planned Parenthood would effectively deny women access to crucial preventative screenings and care for everything from sexually transmitted diseases to cancer. As Warren said,
A vote today to defund Planned Parenthood is not a vote to defund abortions. It’s a vote to defund cancer screenings, and birth control, and basic healthcare for millions of women.
Let’s be really clear about something: The Republican scheme to defund Planned Parenthood is not some sort of surprised response to a highly-edited video. Nope. The Republican vote to defund Planned Parenthood is just one more piece of a deliberate, methodical, orchestrated, right-wing attack on women’s rights. And I’m sick and tired of it. Women everywhere are sick and tired of it. The American people are sick and tired of it. — Elizabeth Warren