Debate Forum Left: 3/29/11

Planned Parenthood is not the problem

By Marianne Stanley

Marianne Stanley

Under the guise of cutting the deficit, Republicans have launched a full-frontal assault on American women. They masquerade behind a carefully structured mask of “Christianity,” coupled with a trumped-up need for “deficit reduction,” as they “slash and burn” their way through women’s rights. Take the current push to defund Planned Parenthood. Although abortion is legal, Planned Parenthood has been singled out for attack. This organization has, for more than 90 years, reputably served men and women in promoting responsible sexuality and reproductive health. Last year alone, they served five million Americans. While most people know that Planned Parenthood provides pregnancy counseling and that women can receive help on having an abortion, most don’t know that abortion only accounts for two to three percent of all their services.
The question we should all be asking is, “Since when is government allowed into our bedrooms?” Those Christians who rail against abortion might want to note that in Christ’s years on Earth, he said nothing about abortion despite ample opportunity. What he did say quite clearly was, “Judge not lest ye also be judged”.  Our Constitution clearly mandates that government must not “establish” a religion. The moral and ethical issue of abortion is a private and personal one that must remain beyond the intrusive reach of government and religious precepts.
Using the term “pro-life” in describing those who object to abortion is both wrong and misleading. It implies women who choose abortion, many of whom already have children of their own, are not pro-life. This kind of oversimplification and labeling does an injustice to women who wrestle with this difficult decision but who are the best judge of what is best for them and for any child they would have.
The irony is that this attempt at forced childbirth for women who find themselves pregnant for any reason is tyrannical, cruel and decidedly unChristian. Hiding this attempt to control their will on another autonomous person behind the phrase “sanctity of life” is nothing short of absurd. Sanctity of whose life? Why are these same people silent about the senseless, horrible loss of thousands of young lives in Iraq and Afghanistan? After all, these are children who are fully sentient and connected to those who love them.
And where is their outcry against the lawmakers who show no concern for the millions of young American children who don’t have enough to eat, and live below the poverty level through no fault of their own? Why are these “pro-lifers” not screaming about the ongoing Republican attacks on school funding, Head Start, mental health services, the homeless and the medically uninsured? Why do they blame jobless parents rather than the banks, corporations and a government who colluded to cost them their jobs, their security, their homes and their future?
If life were sacred, they would yell bloody murder until Congress quit pounding the phrase “deficit reduction” into our heads and started to talk about saving what’s left of our world with government dollars for technology and green jobs while taxing the wealthy and closing corporate loopholes. General Electric, paid $0 in taxes last year although it grossed $14.2 billion dollars. Also, it claimed a $3.2 billion tax benefit. That’s fair, right?
The problem isn’t the deficit. According to reputable economists, cutting back on government spending right now is exactly the wrong thing to do. These times instead call for government spending to put our people back to work in jobs that will strengthen this nation and put the world on the road to sustainability as the global environment continues to deteriorate. The problem is not Planned Parenthood, nor NPR, nor PBS, nor was it ACORN. The problem is the rampant and unapologetic greed of the corporations and politicians who try to turn the national conversation against their victims to take the attention off themselves as they continue to pillage and plunder our nation’s people.
There is absolutely no reason the U.S., the world’s wealthiest country, should have 15 million (one in four) children living in poverty. The attacks on Planned Parenthood and Acorn are an attack on organizations committed to those most marginalized in our society.
When President Nixon signed the law giving federal dollars to Planned Parenthood in 1970, it had bipartisan support. Republicans saw it as a way to keep women off welfare and Democrats saw it as a way of giving families more control. But the bigger prize for the far right today is to eradicate the rights of women in order to further consolidate and grow their power by disempowering women and powerful groups like unions and organizations that promote service, peace and progressive political action. This attempt to defund Planned Parenthood is not about abortion or about them being “flush with money.” Proof? Google “legislative attacks on women.”

Marianne Stanley is an attorney, college professor and former journalist who believes many of our nation’s ills could be cured if our children were taught critical thinking skills beginning at the elementary level and continuing throughout middle and high school. She can be reached at

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