You can argue that the whole birth control thing of late is not a war on women’s rights and I will actually listen to what you have to say. While I don’t agree that the Obama policy on birth control infringes on religious freedom, it’s not an insane position. Despite that questionable issue, I don’t think you could successfully argue that there have been no unjustifiable attacks on women’s rights in the last year.
I am talking about the drastic reductions in spending on women’s clinics under the guise of anti-abortion activism. Anti-abortionists may think that reducing funding to Planned Parenthood will reduce abortions, but this is pretty jacked-up thinking. I am by no means the first to make this point.
Reducing funding to Planned Parenthood primarily means reducing cancer screening (16% of services), contraception (35% of services), and STI/STD screening (35% of services). Of these, we can definitely say reducing contraception (35% of patient care of PP) could only result in an increase in the pool of potential abortion patients and would likely result in an overall increase in abortions. Decreasing funding to PP does not mean a decrease in abortion – it means a decrease in affordable abortion prevention for low-income women and a decrease in safe abortions.
Reducing funding to PP reduces key reproductive health services for men and women. The cost of the unplanned pregnancies that would result from de-funding PP are alone prohibitive. One estimate is “that every dollar spent on family planning saves about $4 in maternity and infant care.” Add to that the costs that fall on the public for undetected cervical and breast cancer as well as the direct and indirect costs* of undetected STDs/STIs, and we’re looking at extremely prohibitive cost increases. You might even want to add the costs to the public of botched back-room abortions and the costs of children losing their mothers and sometimes father to diseases and illnesses PP currently helps prevent or treat.
Ultimately many women** depend on Planned Parenthood clinics and other similar clinics for reproductive healthcare, and that doesn’t just mean birth control and abortion. It means HIV and STI screening. It means cancer screening – particularly breast and cervical. It means catching diseases and cancer early enough that fewer children end up motherless. In a misguided attempt to destroy women’s choice about abortion, people are destroying other women’s ability to stay healthy and the government’s ability to minimize healthcare costs (without having much of an effect on abortion).
*Direct costs: public healthcare treatment of cancers that went undetected, public healthcare paying for treatment of STDs/STIs. Indirect Costs: increased likelihood that people will spread STIs/STDs when they lack access to affordable testing provided by PP clinics and clinics like PP; increased stress levels in those who get STDs/STIs that would otherwise not have gotten them; decreased productivity (lost work time due to medical care, loss of focus due to stress, etc.). Since PP operates only partially on public funds (funds that are vital to the scale of operation they have nonetheless), loss of these funds means losses for the U.S. taxpayer.
** Mostly low-income women (and men) who cannot otherwise afford these services and are often without health insurance. They are also often unable to afford taking time off to travel (or the travel itself) longer distances to get to clinics outside of their hometowns.