RURAL ROUTES/Margot Ford McMillen

GOP Ignores Non-Abortion Services

My favorite words on abortion came from a bumper sticker in the parking lot of a women’s college. The sticker read, “Hate Abortion? Don’t Have One!”

And that, for me, sums it up. It’s a MYOB issue. Mind Your Own Business.

For anti-abortion activists, however, who seem all too often to be white males like Texas Republican Ted Cruz, the issue is more personal. They seem to see baby-making as some kind of ownership issue. Like, MY baby is a temporary inconvenience to YOUR body. Maybe that’s the reasoning behind the explanation of “legitimate rape,” as described by Todd Akin. “If it’s legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut the whole thing down,” he told a St. Louis TV station in 2012. Did I say Akin’s thinking had “reasoning behind the explanation”? Sorry. Restated: Maybe that’s the mythology he learned in a fraternity house.

At any rate, because of this womb-centric debate, the mission of Planned Parenthood (PP) has been reduced in the popular mind to providing low-cost, safe abortions. When asked where citizens can get services provided by PP, politicians routinely talk about crisis pregnancy services.

Not so. PP has a much broader mission, and that should be trumpeted far and wide. PP provides sex information to male as well as female teens and parents, low-cost exams for sexually-transmitted diseases, and safe, no-scalpel vasectomies (sterilization) for men over the age of 21. To change the image, PP must talk about their other services, especially those for men.

Here’s the mission, from their webpage:

To “provide comprehensive reproductive and complementary health care services in settings which preserve and protect the essential privacy and rights of each individual; advocate public policies which guarantee these rights and ensure access to such services; provide educational programs; promote research and the advancement of technology in reproductive health care and encourage understanding of their inherent bioethical, behavioral, and social implications.”

It’s that “promote research ...” part that got PP in trouble. Fetal tissue may be useful in discovering cures for diabetes, heart disease, cancer and other maladies, but it must be harvested and handled. PP can provide that tissue and handling for research. Some anti-abortion groups claim they have filmed administrators talking about where fetal tissues might go, and they say PP is making money off the donations, which PP denies.

The anti-abortionists say their smear campaign will continue, with new videos released every Tuesday unless prevented by the courts. PP counters that the video discussions with their people are cleverly edited and that their administrators have done nothing illegal. Could PP drop the research part of its mission? That’s up to them to decide, but even if they did the anti-abortion activists would find more to complain about.

But, folks, let’s get real. In this age of Snapchat, Instagram, rampant STDs, sexting, human trafficking and TV shows that serve as sex manuals for the witless, our kids need all the good information they can get. Young women, yes, who might be victims of the bad guys or bear the burdens of raising children, but young men, also, who may find themselves responsible for an unwanted child. And PP has been at the forefront of providing good information since the beginning. Hear this: Not all PP clinics are abortion providers. In fact, most do not perform that elective procedure. Instead, their emphasis is on the education mission. And, good information, provided to both girls and especially boys, will prevent abortions or at least make young men realize that they are part of the situation. Funding for PP’s educational mission should be increased.

In the July vote on federal funding for PP, which came down along partisan lines, Republicans failed (53-46) to de-fund. The bill was sponsored by Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and supported by manly mans like Sens. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.) , and Ted (Machine Gun Bacon) Cruz (R-Texas).

It is likely that Joni and the Gang will put the PP defunding issue back on the table after the August break. It could quite possibly become attached to a must-pass funding bill. As Cruz told reporters, the GOP should use, “any and every procedural tool available” to defund Planned Parenthood. That could include tacking the de-funding of PP on to a short-term spending bill expected in September to keep the government from running out of money ... again.

So, the Summer of 2015 has come and almost gone. And how will we remember it?

Here in mid-Missouri, we might call it “The Summer of Ceaseless Rain,” or “The Summer When Farmers Couldn’t Get Their Fields Planted.” More about that in another column.

In politics, it might be “The Summer Of Too Many Candidates,” or “The Comb-over Takeover.” More about that coming, too.

But this may be the most important issue of all: For Planned Parenthood supporters, this will be the summer they changed their image and saved their foundation.

Margot Ford McMillen farms near Fulton, Mo. Email:

From The Progressive Populist, September 1, 2015

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