Off The Record: On Religion, Politics & Equality
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In a recent interview on Fox with Laura Ingraham (sitting in for Bill O’Reilly), Lila Rose, rising super-star in the right-wing, anti-choice army, bemoaned millions and millions in federal tax dollars going to support Planned Parenthood.
A pained look crossed Ms. Rose’s face in disbelief that such a place would receive federal funding. Ms. Rose has been infiltrating Planned Parenthood clinics with a concealed camera for a number of years now. Rose, or another person working with her group “Live Action,” will go into a Planned Parenthood clinic, claim to be a teen impregnated by an older man or in recent videos, a pimp seeking STD testing, contraception and abortions for his stable of 13 – 14 year old ‘hos. Although recently released videos show no wrongdoing and where problems were found valid, Planned Parenthood responded, Fox and other right-wing media outlets continue to sing her – and her mission – praises.
Planned Parenthood receives millions in federal funding to provide low-cost reproductive and women’s health care throughout the United States. One Government Accountability Office report stated the federal government set aside $137 million for twenty-one state affiliates between FY 2002 – 2009, however only ended up distributing approximately $123 million to nineteen affiliates. Other reports claim over $300 million.
In response to this most recent attack it has been made clear through numerous articles, press releases and television programs that no funds provided to Planned Parenthood can be used for providing abortions. Ingraham tosses out this fact – like it is a vast left-wing conspiracy, a heinous lie – and gives the “but we know better wink and nod” to young Lila – both women agree “all money is fungible,” heads nodding, exchanging knowing glances.
But let’s really talk about federal funding. Expressly anti-choice, non-medical, deceptive and in numerous cases, overtly religious Crisis Pregnancy Centers – CPCs – have received millions in taxpayer funding. A cursory search of the Tracking Accountability in Government Grants (TAGGS) website using the simple search term “pregnancy center” as yielded approximately $28 million in federal funds directly to CPCs from 2002 – 2010. However, CPC’s come under many names, like Alpha Center ($2 million) for example, so finding the aggregate dollar amount could be some time coming.
Federally funded Birth Choice in California is “led by God,” “The ultimate aim” of the multi-million dollar federal grant recipient Care Net Pregnancy Center “and its network of pregnancy centers is to share the love and truth of Jesus Christ in both word and deed,” and recipients of $3 million in taxpayer funding, Pinellas Crisis Pregnancy Center, “have been dedicated to saving and preserving lives for the cause of Jesus Christ.”
The extent of the “medical services” offered? Free pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. Not health care, not pre-or post-natal care. The pregnancy test to confirm the good news and an ultrasound to apparently handle the onslaught of ultrasounds that would be required if numerous state legislatures get their ant-choice, anti-women bills pushed through this year.
The thing about federal money to Planned Parenthood is that those funds help provide actual medical care to women. Vital care, reproductive health services like pap smears for early detection of cervical cancer, breast examinations, testing for and treatment of STDs, pre-natal care and follow-up. Things that actually have an impact on women’s lives.
Right wing pundits and politicians bemoan “entitlements” and the federal funding of places like Planned Parenthood. Highly restrictive abortion legislation continues creeping into state legislatures around the country. The typical fetal pain bills, the late-term abortion bills, consciousness clauses on offer and the “Women’s Right to Know Act” that is essentially a bill that requires waiting periods and ultrasounds prior to abortions.
One of the things women have the right to know is that she may be in line for “medical assistance benefits…..for prenatal care, childbirth and neonatal care.” And the availability of “public and private agencies and services to assist a woman through pregnancy, at the time of childbirth and while the child is dependent….”
The bill I pulled that language from is the current “Right to Know” bill in the Iowa Legislature (SF 39). The programs are not called out specifically in the bill, but among would be the entitlement program Medicaid, or to the tax fueled Women, Infant and Children program, or maybe the socialized children’s health care programs. For Rose and the similarly minded, this is not primarily about federal tax dollars – not even close – although that is a nice hook and crossover argument to the less radical of the anti-choice set. Conservatives hold varying degrees of opposition (or support) to abortion but one thing they can safely fall in-line behind is the push to end all this government spending.
However, the entire success Lila, Laura and Mr. Pence’s post abortion utopia relies almost exclusively upon would require billions in federal funding. Call this rout of Planned Parenthood what it really is – a religious right movement to outlaw abortion and to place the contents of a woman’s uterus above the woman herself – an affront to women’s intelligence cloaked in care, compassion and concern. And perhaps worst of all, a political dog whistle to the right-wing base to continue to drive anger, fear and people to the polls.
TAGGS - government grant search engine
Rose’s “Live Action”
H.R. 3 No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act
H.R. 217 - Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act