Unintended consequences of 'defunding'

This is not an editorial about whether abortion is right or wrong. It's about how to have fewer of them. Defunding Planned Parenthood is the wrong way to accomplish that.

About half of all Americans believe abortion should be legal in at least some circumstances, 29 percent say it should be legal in all circumstances, and 19 percent say it should be illegal in every circumstance. Those numbers have not changed appreciably in decades. Weighing in on that issue won't change anyone's opinion.

The replacement for the Affordable Care Act now being debated in Congress includes provisions defunding Planned Parenthood, which operates reproductive health clinics across the country, including clinics in Grants Pass, Medford and Ashland.

Republicans in Congress have wanted to yank federal funding from Planned Parenthood for a long time, and they are banking on their newly gained control of the White House to accomplish that.

Planned Parenthood is the target because it is the largest abortion provider in the country. Never mind the fact that federal law prohibits spending federal dollars on abortion and has since 1976.

None of the three Planned Parenthood clinics in the Rogue Valley performs surgical abortions, although medication-induced abortion is available at the Ashland clinic.

But all three provide contraception — not to mention breast and cervical cancer screening, annual wellness exams for women, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, HIV testing, urinary tract and yeast infection treatment and vasectomy counseling. Cutting Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood means all those services will be reduced. But let's focus on birth control.

More access to birth control, especially for teenagers, means fewer unwanted pregnancies. Fewer unwanted pregnancies means fewer abortions.

Removing federal funding from Planned Parenthood won't stop that organization or any other from performing abortions. In fact, lawmakers offered to preserve the funding if Planned Parenthood agreed to stop providing abortions. The organization refused.

So, because abortion foes see Planned Parenthood only as an abortion provider, they are pushing to cut funding that doesn't pay for abortions, which will cut funding for birth control, which is likely to lead to more unwanted pregnancies, which is likely to result in more abortions.

How does that make sense?

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