Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Attacks on Planned Parenthood Continue to Raise Questions about Goals of Pro-Life Movement

When I've blogged about Planned Parenthood (most recently here), I've noted that, for me as a Catholic, one of the overriding moral issues to be taken into consideration as proposals are made to cut funding for this organization is that it provides essential health care services to economically struggling women throughout the U.S.  And I've questioned whether one can have bona fide pro-life intent if one claims that Planned Parenthood should be shut down because it provides abortions, while the large majority of the services the organization offers are much-needed health care services for poor women.

The drive of the religious and political right to defund Planned Parenthood (which does not use tax dollars to support abortions, since it's forbidden by law to do so) remains in the news these days, as Indiana governor Mitch Daniels announces that he will sign legislation to cut all funding for the organization in his state.  Daniels' announcement has taken political observers by surprise, since Daniels had previously made noises about the need of the Republican party to stop pushing culture war issues, and had received praise in the Beltway echo chamber for making these noises.

Daniels' "moderation" on social issues had made him appear to many Beltway observers to be a viable, credible GOP presidential candidate.  And it now appears his decision to go after Planned Parenthood may well be part of a strategy to position himself as a presidential candidate by enhancing his cred with the the religious right faction of the Republican party, which has decisive power in making or breaking a potential GOP candidate.

Indiana is not the only state considering action to defund Planned Parenthood.  As Laurie Basset reports today at Huffington Post, in Oklahoma, Republican state legislator Jason Murphey is seeking to amend a nutrition bill so that no independent contractors can administer the state's WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) program.  Among the groups in Oklahoma distributing WIC vouchers, which provide food, nutrition education, and regular check-ups for mothers of small children and pregnant women, is Planned Parenthood of Tulsa.

This particular branch of Planned Parenthood does not even provide abortions.  Planned Parenthood of Tulsa provides essential health care for more than 3,535 women, infants and children yearly.  In addition to distributing WIC vouchers, the clinics of this Planned Parenthood group provide about 8,600 prenatal visits a year for poor mothers, and 5,600 pediatric visits a year for their children.

And so, in my view, what's happening in Oklahoma provides an instructive example of the moral incoherence about which I've been blogging as I look at the drive to defund Planned Parenthood: in the name of serving the values of life, of preserving life, influential political leaders are willing to remove food from the mouths of poor children and their mothers, and to block health care services that these mothers and children receive from no other organization.  To make a pro-life point.

Something is morally awry with the pro-life movement, when it arrives at this point.  Or so it seems to me.

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