Republican budget will send women to abortion clinics

The fight over abortion, which is good fundraising fodder and will provide useful sound bites for the 2012 election, ignores the constituencies both claim to be protecting. The politics of abortion puts both women and unborn children at risk.

Despite the headlines, conservatives did not only target Planned Parenthood but also attempted to zero out Title X — funding that in most cases goes to organizations that do not provide abortion. Conservatives advocated for deep cuts to programs that help pregnant women, including the WIC program that provides nutrition assistance for pregnant women and young children and Community Health Centers that serve the underprivileged. In the end, conservatives succeeded in cutting critical programs to help pregnant women carry their pregnancies to term.

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On the other side, pro-choice advocates, in an effort to save their own access to federal funds, ludicrously spent millions on a public advertising and lobbying campaign to save the $50 million they receive each year under Title X. Was the pro-choice campaign really about women’s health, or was it more about politics and inside-the-Beltway access and influence?

And, what about the Republicans? The political influence of Planned Parenthood was the real target, but their blunderbuss tactics undercut critical funding to provide support to pregnant women and unborn children. And, at the end of the day, they missed their target, but succeeded with their devastating budget cuts for healthcare for pregnant women. Ironically, the Republican cuts may very well send more clients to the organization that they sought to defund. 

The $600 million that was cut from Community Health Centers will cut services to families and pregnant women. Ending funding for the centers will mean more women going to wealthy, private providers such as Planned Parenthood. Whether it receives budget funding or not, Planned Parenthood will not close its doors. Its coffers are flush. In 2009, Planned Parenthood of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota received $4.8 million in government grants, had profits of $4.2 million and $31.5 million in fund balances.

Planned Parenthood will continue to have access to federal funds. And, at the same time, they will continue to be the largest abortion provider in the nation. 

Given the budget’s fiasco of pro-choice and GOP politicking, the future looks worrisome for Community Health Centers. They may be forced to close their doors, leaving pregnant women with few options — other than to go to Planned Parenthood, of course, where abortion is always the available option. 

The politics of abortion puts women and unborn children at risk. Stop the gamesmanship. Fund WIC and Community Health Centers that put women and unborn children first.

Washington, D.C.