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The War on Planned Parenthood

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Posted on May 25 2016

To say that the Pro-Life movement has been on the offense as of late feels like a major understatement. The truth is there’s a war going on against Planned Parenthood in which highly deceptive and dangerous tactics are being used and the impact could forever change how this country handles women’s health.

Ten states have chosen to defund Planned Parenthood, because the organization provides abortion services despite the fact that abortions actually make up a very small portion of the services provided by PP each year. The majority of the organization’s work is focused on providing women with health services including STD screenings, contraceptive coverage, cancer screenings, and vaccinations. No federal funding covers abortions.

But still, many politicians and individuals are trying to eliminate all Planned Parenthood funding. And some are succeeding (see above). In 2015 “sting-videos” were released claiming that Planned Parenthood was selling fetal body tissue for profit, a practice which is very much illegal.

It is true that Planned Parenthood provides tissue to scientists for medical research, and it’s true that they charge a small fee to cover their costs. But they never sell anything for more than their costs and they do not make a profit. A formal investigation was opened and instead of filing any charges against PP, a Houston Grand Jury indicted two of the anti-abortion activists behind the undercover investigation, for tampering with a governmental record, and for the purchase and sale of human organs.

Even with these somewhat baseless attempts at halting the practice of abortion, a much larger battle is currently taking place in the Supreme Court with Whole Woman’s Health v Hellerstedt. The basics of the case are as follows:

  • A few years ago, Texas passed a law that places restrictions on abortion clinics within the state. These restrictions include things like: requiring doctors providing abortion to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital, and requiring each abortion clinic to meet the same standard as ambulatory surgical centers.
  • At first glance these rules do kind of make sense. Of course, we want abortion clinics to be medically safe environments, but at the same time, these restrictions look much more like a thinly veiled attempt to limit women’s access to abortions.
  • Whole Women’s Health is challenging the law for creating “undue burden” on women, by causing the closure of many abortion clinics, and requiring women to travel great distances to find a clinic that can perform the procedure.

Oral arguments and the questioning phase were held in March of this year. And to be honest – it was pretty brutal for Texas. After Scalia’s passing, the Supreme Court is missing its loudest conservative voice, letting the liberal side of the court heavily scrutinize the law.

The Texas Solicitor argued that if the law made it too difficult for women who live far from clinics, they could just cross the border into New Mexico to which Ginsburg replied,

That’s –­­ that’s odd that you point to the New Mexico facility. New Mexico doesn’t have any surgical ­­– ASC requirement, and it doesn’t have any admitting requirement. So if your argument is right, then New Mexico is not an available way out for Texas because Texas says to protect our women, we need these things. But send them off to Mexico ­­– New Mexico –­­ New Mexico where they don’t get it either, no admitting privileges, no ASC. And that’s perfectly all right.

Get it RBJ!

Sotomayer, on the other hand, was confused as to why abortion clinics had to meet hospital standards. She asked,

Is there any other medical condition by taking the pills that are required to be done in hospital, not as a prelude to a procedure in hospital, but an independent, you know ­­– I know there are cancer treatments by pills now. How many of those are required to be done in front of a doctor?

The answer, of course, was none.

Some of you might be thinking: Why do we care about this? Wasn’t Roe v. Wade years ago?

The answer is: You should care, because if the court rules in favor of keeping these restrictions it opens the door for dozens of states to pass complicated restrictions and regulations created only to limit access to abortion. It’s a wildly dangerous precedent.

With the recent passing of Justice Scalia, the dynamic of the now unbalanced Supreme Court is unclear. The court will report on their ruling for Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt in June. No matter the result, this case will have a huge impact on women around the country.

Photo courtesy of LA Times

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