State may strip funds for family planning clinics

opinions

April 25, 2011 - 12:00 AM

When Kansas legislators reconvene in Topeka this week they will be asked to make Kansas the first state in the union to strip federal family planning funds from Planned Parenthood clinics and transfer the money to other state and local health clinics. Targeted is about $300,000 that now goes to clinics in Wichita and Hays.
The impact will be particularly noticed in Hays. The clinic there serves eight counties. Four of them don’t have any other place for low-income women to receive the care that Planned Parenthood clinics provide.
The funding can’t be used for abortions. It is against the law for federal dollars to be used to pay for abortions.
The funds help pay for contraceptives, Pap smears and cancer screenings. About 80 percent of the women who depend on the clinics have incomes low enough to qualify for free or reduced-cost care.
Together, the Hays and Wichita clinics serve about 9,000 women.
Remember, this is federal money. It doesn’t come from Kansas taxpayers. Remember also, cutting family planning services not only increases the number of abortions that will occur, it also is aimed at the poorest families and individual women in the state — a segment that simply doesn’t have access to substitute services because they can’t afford them and have zero political clout.
Support for Planned Parenthood is strong with most segments of the U.S. population — which probably explains why none of the other 49 states has decided against using the federal grants under the Title X program for their intended purpose. The goal of the program is to give women the knowledge and aids they need to make their own reproductive decisions.
Without the low-cost contraceptives the clinics provide, more low-income women will become pregnant and more abortions will occur. If more of those pregnancies continue to birth, the Medicaid budget will swell and the burden on Kansas taxpayers will grow.
This consequence is accepted by Kathy Ostrowski, state legislative director of Kansans for Life.
She told a Kansas City Star reporter that funding family planning with taxes “is especially indefensible when more families than ever before are seeking to adopt children.”
Let that sink in.
It is, in other words, the duty of women who have no access to family planning to get pregnant and have babies so that infertile couples may adopt them. How elitist can you get?

PART OF THE PROBLEM is that too many in the anti-abortion brigades lump together abortion, contraception, Pap smears, sexually transmitted disease control and general information on how the human reproduction system functions — and oppose it all.
As Rep. Barbara Bollier, a Mission Hills Republican who supports abortion rights, commented: “I am absolutely amazed that people who want to reduce abortions believe they can do so by cutting off funding for contraceptives.”
The contradiction was well explained by columnist Gail Collins in the same edition of the Star:
“ … We’re currently stuck with a politics of reproduction in which emotion is so strong that actual information becomes irrelevant. … (For example: ) Sen. Jon  Kyl of Arizona (in a debate on Planned Parenthood) claimed that 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood did involved abortions. When challenged, Kyl’s staff said the figure ‘was not intended to be a factual statement.’ ” It was, instead, a deliberate lie to further an ideological cause.
Unless Planned Parenthood can be saved in the Senate, Kansas is on track to set itself another record and become the first state in the union to make the lives of poor women even poorer by limiting their access to the basics of reproductive choice.
And what makes this impending crime against the defenseless even more galling is that the perpetrators will look themselves in the mirror and say, “my, what a grand thing we did today!”

 

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