Gail Collins on House Republicans versus Planned Parenthood:
The House Judiciary Committee has been investigating the matter with lawyerly precision, starting with a hearing titled: â€œPlanned Parenthood Exposed: Examining the Horrific Abortion Practices at the Nationâ€™s Largest Abortion Provider.â€ In a further effort to offer balance and perspective, the committee did not invite Planned Parenthood to testify.
(Coming soon: The House Committee on Energy and Commerce prepares to welcome Pope Francis with a hearing on â€œPapal Fallibility: Why Heâ€™s Totally, Completely and Utterly Off Base About Global Warming.â€)
Yesterday the House voted, mostly on party lines, to defund Planned Parenthood. That was a move meant to mollify the Scorched Earth crowd, who are determined to force another government shutdown on the issue.
Republican leaders don’t want such a shutdown, possibly because a recent poll showed that 71 percent of Americans don’t want another shutdown over Planned Parenthood. Even a small majority of Republicans don’t want it. Government shutdowns are a well-trodden path to Loserville for Republicans. So the vote was supposed to let the fire-eaters vent by voting for a bill that won’t become law. Whether this will settle them down remains to be seen.
We should brace for an uptick in women’s health clinic violence, which will not be limited to abortion clinics:
A summer of increasingly hysterical rhetoric aimed at Planned Parenthood culminated over the weekend in what appears to be a terrorist attack on a clinic in a small town in Eastern Washington. At 3:30 a.m. on Friday, the Planned Parenthood of Pullmanâ€”subject to a huge protest recentlyâ€”caught fire in what investigators are deeming an arson. The damage was extensive enough to close down the clinic for at least a month. A federal anti-terrorism task force has been called in to investigate.
Anti-abortion terrorism is nothing new, of course, but at this point, it’s worth asking if “anti-abortion” is too narrow a term. After all, the clinic in question did not offer abortion. Nor was the Aug. 22 protest at the clinic, which drew an estimated 500 people, really about abortion. The protesters, who were part of a nationally organized series of actions against Planned Parenthood, were demanding the end of funding for contraception and other nonabortion service
Â They’re really against health care for women. Compare/contrast to the Taliban in Afghanistan awhile back, which infamously cut women off from health care by declaring women could not be examined by male doctors while banning female doctors from their practices. Pry this hysteria down to its root, and you’ll find fear and loathing of female sexuality.
One of the Right’s favorite fictions is that if funding were cut off from Planned Parenthood, all kinds of other health care providers would step up to replace them. Experience is not showing that to be true. Gail Collins again:
JindalÂ cut offÂ $730,000 in Medicaid reimbursements to his stateâ€™s two Planned Parenthood clinics, even though neither offers abortion services. They do, however, provide thousands of women with health care, including screening for sexually transmitted infections â€” a terrible problem in some parts of the state.
No big deal. When the issue went to court, Jindalâ€™s administration provided a list of more than 2,000 other places where Planned Parenthoodâ€™s patients could get care.
â€œIt strikes me as extremely odd that you have a dermatologist, an audiologist, a dentist who are billing for family planning services,â€responded the judge.
Whoops. It appeared that the list-makers had overestimated a tad, and the number of alternate providers was actually more like 29.Â None of which had the capacity to take on a flood of additional patients.
I liked this bit:
When Planned Parenthood leaves town, bad things follow. Ask theÂ county in IndianaÂ that drove out its clinic, which happened to be the only place in the area that offered H.I.V. testing. That was in 2013; in March the governor announced a â€œpublic health emergencyâ€ due to the spike in H.I.V. cases.
And the clincher:
Sara Rosenbaum, a professor of health law and policy at George Washington University, studied what happened when Texas blocked Planned Parenthood grants and tried to move the money to other providers. Even when there were other clinics in an area, she said, â€œthey were overbooked with their own patients. What happened in Texas was the amount of family planning services dropped. And the next thing that happened, of course, was that unplanned pregnancies began to rise.â€
At least, the American Taliban won’t put women in burqas. More likely they’ll mandate modest calico dresses and sunbonnets.