By MAGGIE RICH & SAMANTHA STANKO
The recent passing of the Pence Amendment (of HR 1) through the House of Representatives, which bans Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding, is one of the most dangerous legislative attacks against women in our history.
The fact that this outrageous amendment passed through the House makes us question the agenda of House Republicans.
The passage of this amendment was largely due to tense Congressional debates regarding Planned Parenthood’s abortion services. This destructive argument has no basis, as the Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, already bars the use of federal funding for abortion services.
Planned Parenthood’s primary service is preventative health care, not abortion services.
In fact, according to their website, 97 percent of Planned Parenthood’s funding is put towards preventative care like cancer screenings, breast exams, HIV testing and oral contraceptives.
This preventative care is essential to women’s health. For 60 percent of women who seek care at Planned Parenthood, those preventative exams and treatments are the only health care services they will receive all year.
Without those preventative services, hundreds of thousands of women would not receive any annual medical exams, leaving them at risk for undiagnosed cancer, unintended pregnancies and untreated illness.
The suspension of federal funding for this historically pro-women organization will mean that those in need of low-cost, comprehensive services will be without health care with no other place to go.
Denying people, many of whom are low-income, the right to seek preventative care at Planned Parenthood would be devastating.
This is the most outrageous legislative attack against women in Planned Parenthood’s 95 years of service.
This amendment is not about the creation of jobs or the stimulation of our economy, both of which were promised by the Republicans responsible for drafting much of HR 1.
The de-funding of Planned Parenthood would do little to nothing to reduce the deficit or improve our economy.
The passing of this amendment will, in fact, cause irreplaceable health care professionals and community educators to lose their jobs.
Further, the amendment would condemn many women to unintended pregnancies and untreated illnesses, denying them the right to participate in the workforce.
Some Congresspeople have argued in favor of funding Planned Parenthood only if they dispose of their abortion services.
As an irreplaceable health care institution attended by 1-in-5 American women, Planned Parenthood is a trusted provider of legal abortion services and believes in providing this fundamental service.
Planned Parenthood is unrelenting in its values—this organization stands in solidarity with both those seeking preventative care and women seeking abortions.
In fact, it is their commitment to preventative care that reduces the number of unintended pregnancies. Contraception and comprehensive education effectively prevent unintended pregnancies.
Congressman Stephen Lynch, an anti-choice Democrat, spoke in favor of Planned Parenthood because he believes that it does more to prevent pregnancies that any other organization in the United States.
It is this commitment to reproductive justice that can defy partisanship and guarantee women the right to healthy lives and control over their bodies and futures.
Of course, there is heavy speculation from both sides of the argument that there is no way this measure will become law.
To become law, the bill would have to pass through the Senate and then go back to both houses to reconcile disputes. After this, President Obama would need to sign the bill for it to become law.
But funding is not the only thing at stake here.
Even if the bill is not passed into law, the House will have successfully marked reproductive services as something extra–as something not part of legitimate health care and therefore something to be feared and avoided.
As a result of this labeling, people will be less likely to speak out about their reproductive health, silencing millions of women fearing personal or political consequences.
Even if Planned Parenthood maintains its Title X funding, the Pence Amendment is proof that now, more than ever, we need to speak out in defense of reproductive health as a basic human right free of shame and stigma.
Planned Parenthood is critical to the lives of the three million women who rely on their preventative health care services. An American value, Planned Parenthood stands for women’s rights to health care every day.
Now, we must stand with Planned Parenthood.
Hell hath no fury like a woman denied health care because of a preexisting vagina.