February 22nd, 2011

Mike Pence and Planned Parenthood

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Written by: Travis O.
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It’s safe to say that Mike Pence (R-IN) doesn’t like Planned Parenthood. For the third consecutive year, Pence has introduced legislation that would eliminate Title X funding directed towards reproductive health and family planning. His staunch stance, one firmly opposed to abortion, has made him a favorite among social conservatives.

The fact that Title X money is prohibited from being used for abortions, or the fact that abortions make up only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services, doesn’t matter much to Pence. He believes, as POLITICO reported, “If Planned Parenthood wants to be involved in providing counseling services and HIV testing, they ought not be in the business of providing abortions. As long as they aspire to do that, I’ll be after them.”

By stripping Title X funding, Planned Parenthood would not be able to provide sex education and health care services to millions of people, particularly those with a low socio-economic status. The funding Planned Parenthood receives does not pay for abortions; rather, it serves as a means so that the organization can provide information to help people make smart, healthy sexual choices.

Planned Parenthood “is a visible and passionate advocate for policies that enable Americans to access comprehensive reproductive and sexual health care, education, and information” that informs and educates communities and ensures reproductive health and rights while advancing global health.

Among other services, the non-partisan organization administers sexually transmitted disease tests, provides sex education information, various types of birth control, and yes, abortion services when necessary. Everything that Planned Parenthood provides is legal.

But we know that it’s not about the numerous valuable services Planned Parenthood provides; instead, Pence is attacking abortion. He sees abortion as immoral, an act prohibited by his religious beliefs. The majority of his constituents see it as a violation against nature. Simply put, Pence views abortion as murder.

There are some issues in which people will never agree. Topics like abortion invoke religious beliefs that are at the core of a person’s identity. The debate surrounding abortion will never be bridged through policy that tries to reason its decision because reason, unfortunately, is often absent.

In college, I had the opportunity to work for the Pence’s re-election campaign in 2006. Pence is an honorable man who does not say one thing while doing another, fights for what he believes is right, and accurately represents the wants, needs, and beliefs of his district. I have no problem with Pence as a person; however, his attempts to defund Planned Parenthood are misguided.

If Pence wants to make abortion illegal, which he does, striping Planned Parenthood of its funding will not achieve his goal. Why? Only a quarter of the abortions performed in the U.S. are through Planned Parenthood.

Abortions wouldn’t cease if Planned Parenthood were defunded; people would simply seek out another service that provides abortions. Moreover, without Planned Parenthood, the rate of unplanned pregnancies in the U.S. would increase, potentially resulting in more people seeking abortion services from other organizations.

Pence argues that by taking away federal funding from Planned Parenthood, the organization would no longer be able to operate. Planned Parenthood’s ability to “operate abortion clinics” would be eliminated entirely, creating a society that is pro-life.

Yes, Pence is correct when he claims that Planned Parenthood would not be able to operate. However, that means that it would not be able to provide any sexual health resources currently available. In order for Pence to achieve his goal of making abortion illegal, he must change the actual law. The Supreme Court would have to hear a case that unequivocally reverses Roe v. Wade to prevent women from seeking abortion.

My first problem with his proposed legislation is that defunding Planned Parenthood would not prevent abortions from being performed and would take away a much needed sexual health service that millions of people use each year. Basically, I see his attempts as counterproductive because Planned Parenthood provides essential sexual health services that help many people. I also have a problem with the way he frames the argument. Pence often uses the term pro-life that implies pro-choice advocates are the opposite – pro-death.

Pro-death? Really? Give me a break!

First, if abortion was murder, it would be illegal. Life is a “characteristic that distinguishes objects that have self-sustaining biological processes from those that do not.” Life, to me, does not begin at conception. Of course, depending on your moral beliefs, you might disagree with that definition – and that’s okay. The problem I had with the term “pro-life” is that it classifies all those who believe in the legality of abortion as murders, but a fetus isn’t technically a life.

Second, if you don’t believe in abortion, don’t have one. Nobody is making you have an abortion, violating your personal beliefs. Remember that Title X funding does not go towards any abortion procedures and that abortion only makes up 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services. Moreover, demographically the majority or people who oppose abortion are also those who want less government intrusion. Why, then, are they the ones begging the government to dictate what a woman can do to her body? Isn’t that the definition of government intrusion? It doesn’t make sense – a genuine paradox.

Even if you don’t believe in abortion, you should respect others’ right to have such a procedure because it’s their choice.

Furthermore, statistically people opposed to abortion make up the majority of people who believe in the death penalty. The argument is that because the convicted murderer doesn’t value the life of others, we shouldn’t value his/hers. Okay, but aren’t those who support the death penalty still endorsing murder as a punishment? Where’s the sanctity of life in that? All I see is hypocrisy.

Ultimately, lawmakers should shoot down Pence’s proposed Title X budget because it is an unwarranted attack that does more harm than good. Revoking Title X funding will result in Planned Parenthood not being able to provide its considerable health services to millions of people. Pence’s proposed legislation is an assault on personal liberties and women’s rights, preventing people from using Planned Parenthood’s resources that “deliver vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide.” The crux of Pence’s proposed legislation rests on his opposition of abortion, something this bill would not even stop. Rather, Pence’s bill would only prevent people from taking advantage of essential sexual resources vital to both men and women’s health.

About the Author

Travis O.


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2 comments on “Mike Pence and Planned Parenthood

  1. Good article. Makes a lot of good points. I had never made the comparison of small government conservatives implementing laws that limit individual choice, it’s a really good point.

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