Student groups weigh in on anti-Planned Parenthood bill

Originally published by the Daily Lobo
By Celia Raney

A congressional resolution endangering federal funding for family planning providers in the U.S. now sits on President Trump’s desk, awaiting his signature.

House Resolution 43 passed the House with a 230 to 188 vote, and the Senate with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence.

If signed by Trump, the resolution will become law, repealing an act from the Obama Administration which prohibits Title X funds from being determined for political reasons.

Dubbed the “anti-Planned Parenthood bill” because of the ways in which it could affect funding for the nation’s largest abortion provider, the resolution would make it increasingly difficult for family planning organizations to receive funding.

“I think a lot of people don’t realize that these places are getting funding from Title X mostly. So if it’s taken away, they’ll face a lot of hurt from it,” said Anna Allegrett, outreach director for UNM Student Alliance for Reproductive Justice.

The only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services, Title X is the only reason many of these organizations — including Planned Parenthood — are able do what they do. In the 2016 fiscal year, $286 million was appropriated from Title X to Planned Parenthood and similar organizations.

“Title X funding is for family planning services, so it’s not just abortions,” said SARJ Executive Director Kayla Herring.

Although many people believe federal grants can currently pay for abortions, Herring said, the Hyde amendment bars federal funds from being used to perform an abortion except to save the life of the woman, or if the pregnancy was a result of incest or rape.

“So we’re not even really talking about abortion access, because that’s already null through the Hyde amendment,” she said. “What would be taken away from women is birth control, cancer screenings, STI checks, things like that.”

Because most community health centers are funded almost completely through Title X funding, many centers would shut down under the proposed resolution.

“Family planning is already a really underserved health care category, so when we take away funding we’re closing down the health centers that conservative lawmakers said would make up for (the closing of) abortion clinics,” Herring said. “They’ll just be making it more difficult for women to access birth control, to access abortion, to access cancer screenings.”

Family planning organizations benefiting from Title X grants are also essential for the reproductive health of many low-income families.

“I think a huge thing people don’t realize is how much Title X benefits low-income women and families nationwide, which is really important,” Allegrett said.

Not everyone is opposed to the proposed resolution, though.

“No taxpayer dollars should go to Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion vendor,” said Bethany Janzen, regional coordinator for Students for Life of America. “Our mission is to abolish abortion in our lifetime. Stopping the flow of taxpayer money to Planned Parenthood is a strategic move toward achieving that goal, and this resolution helps to move in that direction.”

Because this bill would return discretionary power to the states, which Janzen said needs to happen, many conservative voting states would choose to stop funding family planning institutions.

“We don’t think any Title X funding should go to abortion providers like Planned Parenthood,” Janzen said. “Money is interchangeable, and former Planned Parenthood directors have spoken in public saying that money they receive goes into one big pot and pays for everything. Even if that weren’t the case, while tax dollars wouldn’t directly pay for abortions, they are paying for the salaries of the staff, the medical equipment to provide abortions, the overhead costs of keeping the abortion facility open — it’s an indirect way of paying for abortion.”

Recognizing the very real possibility of this resolution becoming law, Allegrett and Herring said they have faith in their community to advocate for and protect reproductive rights, emphasizing that the services provided by family planning organizations benefit more than just women.

“I think (the benefits) kind of spread to other communities as well. They have STI checks, HIV checks, too, and there’s well-women check ups,” Allegrett said.

If the resolution is signed by Trump, SARJ officials said they plan to continue advocating for reproductive justice, showing representatives and lawmakers that it is an issue that resonates with the community.

“You can never not speak out and not support these kinds of things,” Allegrett said. “When reproductive health care gets defunded or isn’t valued, families and women suffer.”

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