Planned Parenthood: Not Goldman Sachs

Kathleen Reeves

Foes are painting Planned Parenthood as an inflated corporation, dangerously powerful and drunk on profits. So the true kingpin of American corporate power is a group of community health clinics providing free and low-cost care?

The lobbyists and Representatives who want to take down Planned Parenthood have embraced a strange rhetoric that fuses “morality” with (purported) fiscal responsibility. And now the governor of Maine, a fiercely independent state that traditionally resists government regulation of bodies and lifestyles, has threatened to drastically cut state family planning funding. The director of Concerned Women for America of Southern Maine, defending the state and federal cuts, takes the fiscal responsibility route. Referring to Planned Parenthood, she says:

“If their argument is the other services that they provide, if it’s that worthwhile as a non-profit, they can do fund-raising. They should not be getting it from the taxpayer.”

Hey, that’s a good idea. In that spirit, I would like to ask the U.S. Government to please cut its defense budget and have bake sales instead—though I suspect that $708.2 billion (page 1-1) will be harder to rustle up than the $75 million that the House of Reps wants to withhold from Planned Parenthood.

And Concerned Women for America might not like that trade, considering their stance on “National Sovereignty.” Yes, in addition to condemning stem-cell research and gay marriage (and gay people), Concerned Women for America wants to remind you that “neither the United Nations nor any other international organization should have authority over the United States in any area.” CWA generally identifies as “fiscally conservative;” they have also supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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While some of Planned Parenthood’s foes are sticking to the old pro-life tactics of demonizing and sensationalizing abortion procedures—Rep. Jackie Speier briefly and brilliantly responded to such a speech, by Rep. Chris Smith—many of those trying to kill Title X are claiming they’re on an anti-business crusade. They’re hoping to depict Planned Parenthood as an inflated corporation, dangerously powerful and drunk on profits. They figure they can tap into anti-Wall Street sentiments—and crazy as it is to align Planned Parenthood with Goldman Sachs, they’re probably can. Anger and fear are not clear-eyed.

In a stupefying move in January, Rep. Smith’s crony Rep. Michele Bachmann sought to associate Planned Parenthood with oil companies, large banks, etc., calling the clinic “big business” and “the Wal-Mart of big abortion.” So the true kingpin of American corporate power is a group of community health clinics that provide free and low-cost cancer screenings to women who can’t afford them elsewhere.

Bachmann is not the only one claiming that Planned Parenthood epitomizes American capitalist greed: Lila Rose, who has led the charge to paint PP as aiders and abetters of sexual abusers and sex traffickers, made sure to call the organization a “corporation” when she talked to the New York Times.

Jackie Speier, in her speech on the House floor, slammed her colleagues for seeking to distract Americans from the problems that they, the public servants, have been elected to solve. Clearly, these colleagues know how this campaign might make them look—petty, misguided, callous, and irresponsible—and so they’ve made a concerted effort to frame it in terms of economics, as a populist, common-sense measure.

Planned Parenthood provides primary obstetric and gynecological care for many women. This includes services that you’d think “pro-life” advocates would support: prenatal care (which can help reduce infant mortality), breast cancer screenings, ovarian and uterine cancer screenings, HIV testing, and contraception.

This is the work Planned Parenthood does, and it’s not making anyone rich. The bottom line is that the Representatives behind this attack don’t want to pay for a low-income woman’s pap smear. But we already knew that.

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