Let me finish tonight with the battle over Planned Parenthood. It’s no trivial thing. Un-intended pregnancies arise when people don’t use birth control, or don’t use it consistently. But I don’t have to tell you that.
So what should society do about it? Should the U.S. government encourage the use of birth control to reduce the number of pregnancies or not?
Pretty fair question, I’d say. If you see an equal moral problem with both birth control and abortion, then it probably would make no sense whatsoever to promote one in order to avoid the other.
But, and this is the point on which much of the debate over Planned Parenthood hangs, if you “do” believe birth control is a far better alternative to abortion, should the government be providing it? Is giving people information and counseling and help in birth control, something the government should be doing? Is it a good thing for our society to be giving women an alternative to an unwanted pregnancy, one that in a sizable share of cases ends up in an abortion?
This is morally sensitive terrain. I realize that. It’s sensitive to talk about. But right now the government does give birth control information and help to women. It does it through Planned Parenthood. And the Republicans want to stop it.
So here are the best facts available. According to the research, publicly-financed birth control prevents two million pregnancies a year. Based on historic patterns, that means 800,000 fewer abortions in this country. Is that a worthwhile achievement? Or not?
The doctors and nurses of Planned Parenthood provide a number of other services besides birth control to 2 and a half million women
A million screenings a year for cervical cancer. Almost as many breast exams a year. Four million tests for HIV and sexually transmitted diseases. Planned Parenthood also provides abortion services, which are banned from being funded by the government.
So the question is whether it’s a good thing for the government to back birth control and these other areas of women’s health. Or is it not a good thing, because Planned Parenthood does something that the government is not supposed to help with?
The Republicans’ answer is “no.” It is not a good thing and that’s why they’re closing down the government.