Guest post by Logan Rand
With the election of Donald Trump, Planned Parenthood has been front and center in the news, with the focus centered around its funding. Both sides have (as usual) taken some simple measures and blown them way out of proportion. Hopefully I can help both sides see across the aisle here.
Legally speaking, I am pro-choice. Roe v. Wade was decided, and it is the law of the land. I may not agree with the way that it was decided as it seemed to be to be a bit of an overreach of judicial power, but I respect that it is law. To be honest, I’d be happy with any result if it were reached individually by each state and voted on democratically. My personal view is probably exemplified best by Andrew Klavan here at around the 12 minute mark. But I digress.
While legally I am pro-choice, I am also pro-Constitution. And this means protecting religious liberty. When you boil it down, this means that forcing someone to pay taxes to fund something that they disagree with on a religious level violates constitutional law, plain and simple. At this point I don’t think I’ve lost anyone. Both sides tend to agree on this. But its in the details where things get messy.
The Hyde Amendment
This is where most people on the left point to this part of federal law that prohibits the funding of abortions through federal money. And they’re right, this law does exist. It was passed in 1976 with bipartisan support, and was upheld in the Supreme Court in 1980. Nowadays it allows for exceptions in the cases of rape, incest, and the health of the mother. So far so good. Unfortunately, its not that simple.
As Paul Ryan alluded to in his recent town hall, federal funds are fungible.
Fungible: Capable of mutual substitution.
This means that despite the fact that no funds are explicitly being sent to Planned Parenthood for abortions, in effect they still are. Which means that federal funding for Planned Parenthood is in violation of religious freedom. So where do we go from here?
At this point, the point is made that abortions only account for under 3% of Planned Parenthood’s budget, and that women will lose access to the other types of care that they need. So in general, most people that I see that are against the defunding of Planned Parenthood argue that the administration, and in fact all people that are pro-life, don’t care about women’s health. Never mind the fact that nearly half of all women of pro-life, so the assertion that they don’t care about their own health is a bit odd. But it is true that abortions are a very small portion of the PP budget. But it doesn’t change the fact that they are there and happening. So what if there was a way to provide access to all of those health services, while not funding abortions, everyone would be happy right? Well, allow me to introduce the actual plan.
Federal Community Health Centers
Under Paul Ryan’s plan, according to his testimony at that town hall referenced above, the funding would move to Federal Community Health Centers. Taking his words at face value, there are about 20 times more of these centers across the country, and would provide the same exact services as Planned Parenthood. All, except for abortion.
Now it remains to be seen whether this plan actually works, and I remain skeptical just as anyone should remain skeptical of politicians’ plans. (I guess you can’t keep your doctor under Obamacare after all, who knew?) But the very fact that they are proposing this means that they do care about women’s health. They are listening to you. And they aren’t in a “War on Women” as the term was coined in 2012.
“My Body, My Choice”
We hear this a lot around this issue. If it’s my body, why shouldn’t I get to do with it what I want? And guess what? You’re 100% correct.
I’m a borderline libertarian. I think that your body is your body is your body is your body. You want to smoke weed? Go ahead, why should I care? You want to eat 4 Big Macs a day and die at 43? Be my guest. You want to run a marathon? I think you’re insane but more power to you. And yes, if you want to have an abortion, it is legal and that is YOUR choice. Just one issue.
Just don’t ask others to pay for it.
You can do whatever you want within the law, but that is VERY different than making someone else pay for it, especially if they disagree on religious or moral grounds. Again, most people I know that are pro-choice get this concept. But there are far too many that don’t. You are not being “denied access” if someone else isn’t paying for it. You’re just not being funded.
Many conservatives and libertarians argue that if PP is important to so many people, why wouldn’t people elect to just donate to it personally? After all, taxes are essentially the same thing. The argument from here is usually that if the government doesn’t fund Planned Parenthood, it will have to shut down. But in a twist of irony, the fact is quite the opposite. Right after Mike Pence was elected VP, over 315,000 donations were made to Planned Parenthood, 82,000 of them being made in his name as a type of protest. But this ended up actually proving the point that government isn’t the only answer, and private charity does work. More to the point, if everyone that marched in the Women’s March donated $150, Planned Parenthood wouldn’t see a single lapse in funding.
At this point, I know that this has crossed into a whole other territory of health care law in this country (that’s another impending article, trust me), but bluntly put, when you ask for the government to handle something for you, this is what happens. It can’t go both ways. If you ask for the government to help pay for birth control, invariably you’re going to have some Congressional sub-committee of old bald dudes deciding which one is best (again, another article). The best way to avoid this? Get the government out of it. Free markets are about choice. You don’t have to give a rat’s ass about what anyone else thinks. You do you, and I do me. I think this sign personified this spirit pretty well.
Keep Me Honest
I guess what I’m mostly trying to say is that this issue is far more complicated than most people give it credit for. Current federal law is not strong enough to protect religious freedom, and the disaster of a healthcare system in this country makes solving the issue far more complex. People have a right to do what they want with their body, just as people have a right to do what they want with their money. If the Paul Ryan plan doesn’t actually accomplish what he says it will, we can hold his feet to the fire. Planned Parenthood is vital to the health of many women across this country, so we need to get his right. To me, this is the best way I know how.