pp-1Here is an actual quote from Utah Sen. Mike Lee on January 30th in the Daily Signal: “Of the ‘pregnancy services’ offered by the organization, 94 percent are abortions.”

I just — what?

How can he be so blatantly and willfully wrong about facts? Facts that a senator has direct access to through legitimate and accurate records? The worst part is, he is not the first to claim this. Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and several others have all claimed wildly different numbers, all of which are incorrect.

These so-called “alternative facts” are destroying any sort of reasonable debate.

The foundation of a debate is that both sides have arguments that are backed up by facts and truth. Each side may cherry-pick which facts support their stance, but they are at the very least truthful. This new way of “alternative facts” makes it impossible to have a productive or even worthwhile debate. We are no longer debating whether we are “pro-life” or “pro-choice”, but instead arguing over basic statistics.

Somehow, we’ve arrived in an era where politicians base their arguments on falsehoods. We were taught to rely on our elected officials to provide us with true information on important issues. With that trust destroyed, whom do we turn to now?

Here’s the thing: Planned Parenthood doesn’t just provide abortion services, but also birth control, Pap tests, cancer screenings, tests and treatments for HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases, and educational outreach services for students around the country. In fact, only three percent of all Planned Parenthood services are abortion services. On top of that, zero tax dollars go towards abortion services. Zero!

The 1976 Hyde Amendment already prohibits funding from the government to go towards any abortion services. The only exceptions to this are if a woman’s life is at risk or in the case of rape or incest. This amendment makes it so only people who can afford to have an abortion have access to one, which is inherently classist and extremely dangerous.

The way Planned Parenthood receives its funding is the same way any doctor bills government programs like Medicaid or Title X Family Planning Program. Planned Parenthood sends in a bill to these programs and receives reimbursement for the services provided. For example, if a woman who has Medicaid coverage comes in for a mammogram, Planned Parenthood submits the bill to Medicaid to be reimbursed for the mammogram provided.

Not a single taxpayer dollar can go towards abortion services. There is no “line item” for them to take money away from, as the amount of money reimbursed each year fluctuates depending on the number of patients they see and what services they receive.

So, when politicians say they are going to “defund Planned Parenthood,” what they are really saying is that they are going to stop reimbursing Planned Parenthood for basic public health services like cancer screenings and STD treatments.

The bottom line is, reducing access to abortions does not decrease the number of abortions that occur. In fact, the number of abortions increases. It’s similar to laws banning illegal drug use: clearly, people are still using drugs.

Any attempt to stop abortions through restrictive laws can never eliminate abortion, because you cannot eliminate women’s need for abortions. Additionally, without any regulation or monitoring on the safety of the abortions, desperate women will turn to unsafe methods that can lead to permanent disfiguration or even death.

Before the constitutional right to an abortion, eight in 10 low income women were attempting dangerous and illegal abortions. The 1973 Roe v. Wade decision was an attempt to curb this epidemic. Roe v. Wade recognized that the constitutional right to privacy extends to a woman’s right to make her own personal medical decisions. This decision has saved hundreds of thousands of lives in the four decades since its implementation, and the abortion procedure is one of the safest medical procedures in the United States. Now, however, the pro-life movement wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, and throw us back into an age of life-threatening, unregulated illegal abortions.

The pro-life movement’s goal is, or should be, to reduce the amount of abortions that happen down to zero. I wholeheartedly agree with that goal. I would love to live in a world where we had such wide open access to contraceptive services that abortions were no longer needed.

However, defunding a program that prevents an estimated 515,000 unintended pregnancies each year and averts more than 216,000 abortions annually by providing contraceptive services is not the answer. The Guttmacher Institute, National Institutes of Health and the Center for Disease Control all agree: Defunding Planned Parenthood is not the answer.

Stephanie DeMeyer

UP Contributor

Learn more about Lamar University at lamar.edu

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