JIM CREES: The rich get more righteous, the poor get sicker

Well … here we go again.

Planned Parenthood. The conservative’s perennial bogeyman.

With a new Congress, new president and lots of new enthusiasm, our more … um … conservative brethren (at least those in Washington and Lansing looking to impress their “base”) are busy once again talking about defunding Planned Parenthood.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has declared his intentions to do just that.

Sad thing is … it might work this time around. With the folks we’ll soon have running the show in Washington, Planned Parenthood might actually be cut off from federal funding for healthcare programs.

Oh, the glee there will be in some quarters.

This, of course, will not totally eliminate Planned Parenthood, but the loss of federal funding will severely affect the ability of this organization to impact the lives of many who are out of reach of decent medical care. Affordable health care will be greatly reduced for millions of people.

Still, it’s all about … (drum roll please) … the abortion thing.

Except … federal law already prohibits the use of federal funding to pay for abortions — with certain strict exceptions.

The Hyde Amendment restricts the funding available through the federal health departments and especially limits Medicaid funding that might be used for abortions.

For example, the 2014 appropriations bill for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education contained the specific limitations on federal spending for abortion and used terminology (based on the Hyde Amendment) stating:

“SEC. 301. (a) None of the funds appropriated in this Act, and none of the funds in any trust fund to which funds are appropriated in this Act, shall be expended for any abortion. (b) None of the funds appropriated in this Act, and none of the funds in any trust fund to which funds are appropriated in this Act, shall be expended for health benefits coverage that includes coverage of abortion.”

So, Planned Parenthood already IS NOT using federal funds for abortions.

Still, some GOP candidates continue to cry for defunding based on the abortion deception — especially those pandering to the religious right.

So, if we do defund and rigorously damage the ability of Planned Parenthood to function, especially in rural and inner-city communities, what would we lose?

I actually discussed this in a previous column.

Here in the Mecosta-Osceola area, Planned Parenthood is often the only contact women – poor, uninsured, disenfranchised or otherwise – are able to see on even a nominally regular basis. Planned Parenthood helps women in the area deal not only with reproductive health issues, but can help with breast exams, cervical cancer screenings, infertility education, mammogram referrals, hormone replacement therapy, Pap testing, urinary tract infections and routine physicals for women 12 and up.

In fact, Planned Parenthood health centers around the country provided close to half-million breast exams and hundreds of thousands of Pap tests in the past year. Cancers are detected early and abnormalities identified through this testing.

Planned Parenthood assists in anemia testing, cholesterol, thyroid and diabetes screening, high blood pressure reviews, smoking cessation and pregnancy planning.

And there’s more … Planned Parenthood can help dealing with STD testing and treatment. Millions of people were tested for STDs by Planned Parenthood over the past year.

Planned Parenthood is available when a woman becomes pregnant, offering not only the highly debated (and wildly overstated) abortion referrals, but other services as well.

If a woman wants to keep the baby, Planned Parenthood is able to provide referrals and resources for prenatal care. If the woman wants to carry the pregnancy to completion, but not keep the baby, Planned Parenthood can provide advice and resources to help with adoption options. And if a woman wants to become pregnant but is unable to for whatever reason, Planned Parenthood can actually offer fertility awareness services.

Yes, they can help women become pregnant!

But wait … Planned Parenthood isn’t all about women. The organization staff can help men as well with testicular and prostate cancer screenings, testing and treatment for urinary tract infections and screening and referrals for male infertility and other reproductive issues.

Planned Parenthood is there for men and women. And yes, they do hand out condoms and work with men and women in determining other contraceptive options.

So … defund Planned Parenthood?

Has anyone in Washington considered the expense of NOT having Planned Parenthood?

Planned Parenthood serves close to three million clients each year in the U.S. alone, through 800 affiliate health centers. Seventy-six percent of the people served are below the poverty level, and would likely have no other access to healthcare.

Politicians know this. They beat their chests and wail and moan. But they have no options for replacing Planned Parenthood services — an organization doing the real “work of the people.”

Still, in an incredible act of folly, the new team in Washington may try to crush Planned Parenthood this year.

Why???

Who knows how they think?!

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Posted by Jim Crees

Jim is the editor in chief of the Pioneer, Herald Review and Lake County Star. He can be reached by phone at (231) 592-8360 or by e-mail at jcrees@pioneergroup.com.

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