Planned Parenthood probe not for women’s protection

In response to Lila Rose’s “Time to end the taxpayer subsidy of Planned Parenthood” on Feb. 25: In July 2009 I had my first interaction with the women’s health chain, Planned Parenthood. I was 9 weeks pregnant at the time, and desperate to terminate the pregnancy. I was provided with safe and legal abortion services, and I talked with one of Planned Parenthood’s counselors about why I had found myself facing this situation in the first place. That same day Planned Parenthood provided me with long-term birth control, free of charge. Since then, I have been an avid supporter of Planned Parenthood and often utilize their services.

Today, this valuable and necessary organization is under attack. Lila Rose’s Live Action claims it has proof of various Planned Parenthood employees aiding and abetting sex trafficking and child abuse. In response, they are urging Congress to defund Planned Parenthood. The demand to cripple Planned Parenthood is extreme in any case, but especially considering the fact that Live Action’s proof is questionable at best.

There is no follow-up in any of these investigations. What would Live Action have had the Planned Parenthood employees do? Call the police to make allegations about someone of whom they have no contact information or evidence? There would have been absolutely no way for them to prove that this “pimp” had said any of what is heard on Live Action’s recording. Live Action never returns to see what would actually have happened had they brought a 14-year-old victim of sex trafficking to Planned Parenthood to receive reproductive healthcare. These films require to viewers to jump to conclusions about what Planned Parenthood employees would have done. Assumption is not enough to defund an organization.

Lila Rose and Live Action have made it clear that their goal is not to investigate sex-trafficking and abuse in the women’s health industry or to make sure that all health centers follow legal guidelines. Their goal, explicitly stated, is to bring down Planned Parenthood. If they were genuinely interested in investigating the aiding and abetting of sex trafficking in the women’s health industry, their investigations would not focus solely on Planned Parenthood. We have no basis through which to compare the footage shot at Planned Parenthood to what would happen in other clinics under the same circumstances. If Live Action wants their investigation to have any true credibility, then it is necessary that they play out these same scenarios at various women’s health clinics, hospitals and crisis pregnancy centers.

Women’s health centers nationwide often find themselves in difficult situations. They are bound both by mandatory reporting laws and by confidentiality agreements. Daily, they must face the reality that women’s sexuality and reproductive lives are nuanced and complicated. Grey areas abound and personal circumstance and perceptions must always be respected. In many cases, the best that these centers and clinics can do is to hope to empower women to make the right decisions for themselves by providing access to resources and information. In producing and promoting these videos, both Live Action and their supporters in Congress have exploited and abused the fundamental trust that must exist between women and their healthcare providers. This has not been done, as is claimed, to protect women. It has been done to steal information, resources and services away from us. It’s time that we stop assuming what is best for women and start trusting them to make decisions for themselves.

Mankato, Minn.

Time for big cuts is now

From L. Michael Hager

Why focus on penny-ante benefits for the poor and middle class when big-cut opportunities are right here before our eyes? $35 billion for tankers, spendthrift space flights, pointless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, million-dollar drone attacks on who knows whom in Pakistan, undisclosed amounts for counterproductive CIA cloak-and-dagger operations, Guantánamo, a $500 billion plus military budget, tax cuts for the wealthy — the ones who want to cut benefits for the poor and middle class. 

Let’s not sweat the small stuff. Let’s get serious about budget reduction!

Washington, D.C.

D.C. housing should 
be a perk of the job

From Karen Ann DeLuca

Recently, it came to light that 50 congressmen, mostly freshmen and all male, were sleeping in their offices to save time and money, unable to support two households on $174,000/year. Rather than penalize these representatives for their frugality, creativity and dedication, why doesn’t Congress take this opportunity to acknowledge and address the problem and provide legislators in both chambers dormitory like housing, low-cost or as a “perk” of the job? Unused office buildings could be converted to residential units; spare capacity on military bases in the region could be utilized as well. This would level the playing field expense-wise for this “necessity” once a congressman or senator arrived in town, and perhaps attract more people “like US” to serve by lessening the financial pressure to “sleep with frenemies” — no pun intended — just to pay the bills.

Alexandria, Va.