I haven't spoken out about this issue that is driving our national system and economy to the edge of a cliff.
The House Bill for the 2011 budget contains numerous riders about social issues. The Senate bill does not. The two bills are some billions apart, but both sides have a very short way to go to compromise on something in the middle.
I think the House and Senate have the right to bring up numerous social agenda issues in the lawmaking process. I personally think that the national debt, the budget, the wars, and, for god's sake, the creation of new jobs are more important right now than social agenda items.
I have a hard time with social agenda items that are so clearly biased against my sex. I'm not sure why any political party feels it can move forward by working against women. I'm not sure how Republican women live with these positions and even campaign for them. It mystifies me.
There are 12 women in my office. 9 of them were there today. They're a good
cross section of women in Florida. There are women from every decade of 20's to 50's. There are women with children and a couple who don't have children. There are women of color, and, uniquely, none who are hispanic (a little odd for Florida). None of them objected to my questions. I asked only 4:
- Have you ever needed Planned Parenthood?
- Has a close relative ever needed Planned Parenthood?
- Do you know what services were needed if either answer is yes?
- Did the client of PP have alternatives for the services they got?
If there is someone in the office who needed, or whose family needed abortion services, no one mentioned it. I wouldn't expect them to. Like the population in my office, the PP clients who seek abortion are not a part of this survey, because, if they did receive the service, it was not paid for with Federal funds.
3 of 9 had used Planned Parenthood services sometime in their lives.
2 of 9 women had a close relative they thought had used the service.
Mammograms, birth control, prenatal care and cervical cancer screenings were
mentioned in the type of service. Did anyone know of alternatives? A couple of
people advocated that the Women's Centre of Tampa might be able to help... (but they don't provide these services; I know, I volunteered there)
55% of the women in my department knew of a need in the past. Incredible. Only 1 of the 9 people could not get passionate over how the loss of funding could hurt women all over my city.
My own need for Planned Parenthood happened in college, when I had no other access to birth control; this occurred between the ages of 19 and 22. By the age of 22, I had my own health care. (How many 22 year old college graduates today have access to a full time job, much less a health care plan?) In my adult life, after divorce, I had two months while I searched for jobs where I could not cover my health through COBRA. During this period, Planned Parenthood provided a mammogram and an ultrasound when I found a lump under my arm. I was lucky. It was a benign cyst.
My daughter, who has had a bout with cervical cancer, has had screenings through Planned Parenthood, after she fell off our health insurance and out of the Tricare plan she had when she was married. Today, of course, I would be able to have covered her under the age of 26 on my own health insurance. That's thanks to the health care act of 2010 -- but it didn't exist then. Her screenings turned out negative. Now she has health care.
So, middle class women who find themselves in odd financial circumstances in my family have benefited during hard times from Planned Parenthood.
2-3% of the services funded under Planned Parenthood are abortions. None of these services are paid for with Federal funds. If you need an abortion, you have to come up with several hundred dollars to pay for it. There is not as much of a need for these services as there would be if there was no access to contraceptives under the Planned Parenthood umbrella.
If Federal funding, which was made available by an act under President Nixon in 1970, goes away, 1/3 of Planned Parenthood's revenue will be decimated. 700,000 donors will still help to fund services. Here is what will be affected for lower income women (and men, PP provides vasectomy services) and for those who have had higher incomes but find themselves without resources in today's economy:
5 million clients a year. 1.25 million are women under the age of 19 may not, in part, be able to receive services.
35% of funds go to contraceptive services and emergency contraception.
34% of funds go to screening for sexually transmitted diseases and treatment
17% of funds go to cancer screenings (breast and cervical)
10% of funds go to pregnancy and prenatal care, menopausal care, and infertility
Sigh. I think that Planned Parenthood funding should take a "ratable share" of the hit in Federal support, just like everything the Federal government funds should.
But I think that the demand that it be a 100% cut can only be based on narrow-mindedness and failure to research and understand the importance of what these dollars fund. This is about people getting the "abortion crazies" and imposing their own morality on the country through legislators that are willing to go along for the votes.
And, if they succeed, abortions, teenaged birth, and a higher incidence of STD's or women's cancer will be the long term result. Can we afford that? Of course, we can all practice abstinence. That's realistic.
Does this issue belong in a budget bill? Of course not.
I can't get as excited about the EPA. Forgive me. My life, in many ways, is about women-centered issues because I am a woman, and I work in an industry that is populated primarily by women. I care about women's health and I believe in the good that Planned Parenthood does. So should you.