Tag: Planned Parenthood

Another Shutdown?

Wut?

Congress is running out of time to agree on a spending plan that keeps the government open, as Republican leaders attempt to defuse the threat of another shutdown – this one over Planned Parenthood.

Dozens of conservatives in the House and Senate have already pledged not to vote for a spending bill that includes money for Planned Parenthood. But both House speaker John Boehner and Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell have rejected such proposals, worried that moderate and independent voters may blame the Republican party for a government shutdown.

Ya think? Shutting down the government two years ago accomplished little but had some support from the public. Shutting down the government over Planned Parenthood will accomplish nothing and have almost no support (current polling shows 70-20 opposition).

This is entirely about Planned Parenthood. The parties are in agreement on the budget, which basically sustains the fiscal path that has cut the budget deficit by 70% over the last six years. Right now, the leadership are trying to schedule a separate vote on defunding Planned Parenthood. Even if that passes, however, the President would veto it. And even if he didn’t, Planned Parenthood would almost certainly sue over it. Most of their government money come via Medicaid, for medical services they provide to poor women (this does not include abortion, for which funding is forbidden). So this would amount to singling them out among many providers for activities which, so far, are not illegal. Moreover, stripping this funding would not stop a single abortion, since Planned Parenthood’s abortion business is a separate revenue stream.

I have no idea where the Republican Party is headed right now. The two men leading the polls are Donald Trump and Ben Carson, neither of whom has any experience and neither of whom has shown much policy knowledge. Meanwhile, the campaign of several promising governors — Christie, Perry, Walker — are imploding. And now we’re talking about a government shutdown to stop an admittedly unpleasant abortion provider from … also providing health services and birth control. And while the GOP is flailing around like this, the Democrats are getting ready to put forward Hillary Clinton or, God help us, Bernie Sanders, as a Presidential candidate.

Give the culture cons their vote on Planned Parenthood. But once that fails, just pass the damn budget. It’s one thing to shut down over spiraling deficits. I didn’t support the shutdown over Obamacare but at least that was partially defensible. But this … this is just silliness. And with an election coming up, it could prove to be very costly silliness.

PP, CMP, Videos, Oh my!

Over the last couple of weeks, an organization called the Center for Medical Progress has released a series of undercover videos alleging that Planned Parenthood has been selling parts of aborted fetuses for medical research. Posing as representatives of a medical research company, they have made inquiries about acquiring fetal tissue for research. On the videos, Planned Parenthood representatives discuss how to provide the tissue. They also joke about the procedure and talk about how abortion providers can carry out abortions to spare organs that medical researchers want.

Selling parts of aborted fetuses for profit is illegal. However, asking for compensation for the costs of harvesting those organs is legal. Right now, it appears that Planned Parenthood is in compliance with the law.

Planned Parenthood and the medical companies are countering with allegations that the videos are deceptively edited and several companies have sought a court order to prevent further releases of the videos. Ken White breaks that down here. The short version is that the Center for Medical Progress can not be forced to not show the videos unless they have already waived their first amendment rights by signing non-disclosure agreements. There also appear to be issues with the Center for Medical Progress sting videos taken in California, which is a two-party state. The Center, however, has indicated that they intend to release more videos.

In general, I tend to shy away from the abortion issue. People are too entrenched on the issue. If the Center for Medical Progress has broken the law — either by violating a non-disclosure agreement or taping someone in California without their consent — they should be punished accordingly. And if Planned Parenthood or other organizations have broken the law by selling fetal tissue for profit, they should be punished accordingly. The courts seem well on their way to sorting this out.

The Republicans, however, are using this in yet another effort to defund Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood doesn’t get money for abortions. They do, however, get money from grants and from Medicaid for providing birth control and disease screenings to poor women and the Republicans now want to shut that off. I have to say that I’m against this. Planned Parenthood provides abortions. This has never been a secret. Abortion is a nasty business. That has never been a secret either. But their abortion business and their birth control operations are separate and trying to defund the latter because of the behavior of the former is, effectively, trying to ban abortion through the back door.

No, it’s worse. Cutting off Planned Parenthood from federal funds will have no effect on their abortion business. It will simply mean fewer women getting contraception and more women having babies (and having more abortions). It will mean fewer women getting condoms and more women catching diseases. And while you might say “Hey, let them pay for their own birth control!” guess who’s going to have to pick up the bill for those babies and diseases? Unless the Republicans are also willing to shut off Medicaid, WIC, food stamps and everything else … including for children … this is not a move to save the government money. And it is doubly not a move to save money because the Republicans want to divert that money to ineffective faith-based programs that will result in more poor women having babies and getting diseases.

There’s one other aspect of this, though. One I’m hesitant to get into, but one I think is important. The thing is … while I disagree with the Republicans, I understand where they’re coming from.

The pro-choice side has a very long history of trying to run away from the gruesomeness of abortion. They’ve tried to keep protesters from showing signs of aborted fetuses; they’ve tried to block informed consent laws that tell patients how abortion works; they try to pretend that the procedure is no more significant than having a boil lanced.

But this is nonsense. Abortion is a gruesome business. Most medicine is. I had my gallbladder out a few years ago and that was still nasty despite being done through a laparoscope. If you work in medicine for any period of time, you will see things that make your stomach turn. And then you will get inured to it.

If there have been laws broken, that needs to be punished. But there is nothing illegal about providing fetal tissue — at cost — to medical research companies. The alternative is to incinerate the tissue. But there’s also nothing wrong with abortion opponents pointing out that harvesting of fetal cells exists and that abortion providers try to accommodate that demand. This is part of the debate. It is perfectly acceptable to say to pro-choicers, “If you think abortion, should be legal, this is what you think should be legal.” And honest pro-choicers, like Elizabeth Nolan Brown, have accepted that. I accept that (although I oppose most late-term abortion).

The outraged response to this from the Left; the reflexive defensiveness; the attempt to impugn the Center for Medical Progress as “extremists” (which they are) instead of addressing their claims represent a real problem for the pro-choice movement. They don’t like to talk about what abortion entails.

This is not unique to the pro-choice movement. Pro-death-penalty people don’t like to talk about botched executions and the likelihood that the lethal injection combo we use causes excruciating pain. War advocates don’t like to see pictures of dead children. But that doesn’t change the reality of these policies (or their necessity, if you think them necessary).

The pro-choice movement, which I reluctantly agree with, is trying to run away from the reality of what they support. I don’t think they can.

Planned Parenthood’s War on Women

Over the last few weeks, a number of prominent Republicans have come out in favor of making the birth control pill available over the counter. This action has the support of the American Society of Obstetric and Gynecology. It would almost certainly bring prices down and obviate the need for women to make an expensive visit to the OB/Gyn to get birth control. It wouldn’t end the Culture War, but it would turn down the heat a bit.

There are reasons to be concerned: the “standard” pill isn’t appropriate for everyone and the wrong prescription can create serious health problems (a friend of mine developed a pulmonary embolism because of a bad scrip). But opposition is also coming from an unexpected source: Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood opposes over-the-counter contraception, pushing back against a popular Republican argument being used in many Senate races this year.

The nonprofit’s lobbying arm, which advocates for women’s reproductive health issues, argued that calls for allowing birth control pills to be sold without a prescription are “empty gestures.”

The policy change would “force women to go back to the days when they paid out of pocket for birth control — which can cost upwards of $600 a year,” Planned Parenthood Action Fund wrote on its website.

As has been pointed out, there are stores that sell birth control bills for as little as $10-20 a month. Furthermore, there is no power on Earth that can stop an insurer from covering birth control even if it is over-the-counter. In fact, there’s no reason the birth control mandate can not include reimbursement for OTC birth control (said mandate having been upheld for all but religious organizations and closely-held corporations). Going even further, the contraception mandate was justified by its supporters because some women need very specialized birth control or IUD devices. These would not be available over-the-counter as Planned Parenthood notes in their own statement. Nothing in this would destroy the Obamacare mandate. Nothing in this would stop women from getting birth control. All it would do is change how they get it.

Then there’s this gem:

The statement also noted that no prescription drug manufacturer has applied for their pills to be made available over the counter.

As one of my Twitter followers noted, spot the paradox! We can’t make it available over the counter because no one is asking for permission to sell over the counter this thing they legally can’t sell over the counter.

Of course, I’m sure this has nothing to do with Planned Parenthood themselves being a vendor of reproductive services and prescription birth control. Nothing whatsoever. And I’m sure it has nothing to do with the money they get from the federal government and state governments to provide birth control to poor women. And I’m sure it has nothing to do with their political arm wanting to maintain a “war on women” to raise money and campaign against Republicans. God forbid we should defuse that particular line of crap.

It’s funny. Planned Parenthood is an organization I agree with on a number of issues. But the way they approach the issues fills me with revulsion. They are stewed in Culture War rhetoric and a deep hatred of everything Republican. In this case, it has massively warped their vision. Making birth control available over the counter would do a lot to increase women’s access (especially for those who are uninsured). Planned Parenthood’s position is that they oppose it because REPUBLICANS.

If there’s a War on Women, Planned Parenthood is shooting at their own side.

Weekend Roundup

As of tonight, I am on the other side of the world. Actually, most people would say I blog like someone on from a completely different world. But in this case, it’s literally true: I’m back in Australia. As a result of preparations and travel, I’ve missed the biggest news stories of the week. So I’ll go through them quickly in a weekend roundup form to hopefully start a few (well-reasoned) fights.

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First, Indiana became the latest right-to-work state over fierce labor union opposition. Ever so slowly, the unions are losing their grip on power. Watch out for Mitch Daniels come 2016. That guy has President written all over him.

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Eric Holder continues to lower the bar for attorneys general. His latest statement is that he will crack down on Operation Fast and Furious. Actually, he will crack down on OFF whistleblowers. This man’s allegiance to government power should be a much bigger story.

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The latest jobs report is out. Not only did job creation numbers blow by expectations, but December and November numbers were revised upward. All told, 300k jobs were added in multiple sectors, including manufacturing, and the unemployment rate is down to 8.3%. It’s been many years since we had a jobs report that solid.

Now, the total unemployment number — which accounts for people who have given up looking for work — has only fallen a little. But it has fallen … a little. This is ceasing to be a blip and starting to look like a resurgence. It’s not near strong enough. But it’s hopeful. We’ll know things are really getting better when job creation numbers rise and the unemployment rate also rises. That will tell us when people are rejoining the labor force.

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I don’t have a lot of interest in the spat between the Komen Foundation and Planned Parenthood over the former pulling funding from the latter because of abortion, then reversing that decision. I do however, think Josh Barro has a legitimate point: Planned Parenthood supporters need to quit pretending that abortion is only incidental to PP’s mission and function. They are one of the largest abortion providers in the nation, it is a huge part of their budget and anyone who has been to a clinic can not but notice how big a part abortion is of what they do.

The Planned Parenthood defenders are throwing out a statistic that abortions are only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services. That may be literally true, but it’s comparing apples to watermelons. An abortion is a far more involved and expensive procedure than a breast cancer screening or a birth control consultation. By way of illustration, a surgeon may do see a patient ten times for follow-up of a single surgical procedure. But only an idiot would claim that surgery is only 10% of what a surgeon does.

People who support Planned Parenthood do so, in part, because of their abortion services. If Planned Parenthood ended abortions tomorrow, their support would shrink, at least a little. You can not both support Planned Parenthood because someone needs to provide abortions and then turn around and claim abortion is only a small part of what they do. Agreeing with this doesn’t make you pro-life or anti-woman or anti-choice or even anti-Planned-Parenthood. It makes you connected with reality.

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Finally, the CBO released their latest projection, which is for a $1.1 trillion deficit this year (believe it or not, that’s down by several hundred billion from the peak) and more trillions over the next decade. They also project that the economy will weaken as tax hikes and spending cuts kick in. Color me very skeptical on that last part. The CBOs models are rigged a certain way. And that way is of dubious accuracy.