“Pro-Lifers” once again show their commitment to death

Almost exactly five years ago, I fulfilled my six-month probationary period at work and was finally eligible for health insurance benefits. One of the first things I did was skim the provider handbook to find the nearest Planned Parenthood so that I could make a date with a speculum. But Planned Parenthood wasn't listed in the provider directory. So, I called MCARE and asked if there was a PP near me that I could use for my gynecological needs, only to be told that MCARE doesn't cover PP for annual exams—only abortions. Pleased as I was to find that first-trimester elective and therapeutic abortions would be completely covered at the PP of my choice, I was a little dismayed to find that my insurance company didn't think that PP, the largest provider of women's health services in America, had any utility beyond abortion. In fact, they'd probably be shocked to find out that most PP affiliate offices don't even perform abortions (or if they do, only one or two days a week), focusing instead on boring stuff like pap smears and breast and cervical cancer screenings.

Apparently MCARE and Missouri's Governor Matt Blunt have something in common:

For fifteen years, Planned Parenthood of Southwest Missouri clinics in Joplin and Springfield have offered free breast and cervical cancer screenings as part of the state’s “Show Me Healthy Women” program. Now Governor Matt Blunt has announced that he will cut off all program funding to Planned Parenthood and redirect it to other health clinics. “Patients should not have to go to an abortion clinic to access life-saving tests,” Blunt declared. Refusing to fund cancer screening at the clinics, he said, “ensures women may access important preventative care without contributing to abortion providers’ goal of facilitating the destruction of innocent life.”

PPSM has been providing quality health care to poor women for years—breast and cervical cancer rates have been dropping in the United States, and that is thanks to increased awareness and access to regular breast exams and pap smears, both of which help diagnose cancer earlier making treatment more effective. With lack of access to health insurance, and lack of funds to pay for life-saving treatments out-of-pocket, low-income women are disproportionately affected by breast and cervical cancer and have a higher mortality rate.

Governor Blunt is correct though—no women should have to go to an abortion clinic to receive cancer screenings. Of course, no women should be prevented from going to such a clinic if it is is closer to home or already that women's primary provider of reproductive health services. Or just because she feels like it. Cutting off access to health care—particularly from the largest provider of women's health services in the country—just to prove your fetus-love doesn't really do much to prove your pro-life (no scare quotes) chops. In fact, it shows a stunning lack of regard for the lives of poor women, who are more likely to use Planned Parenthood than a private doctor.

Oh, did I mention that PPSM doesn't actually provide abortions?

"[Governor Blunt] was being dishonest," says Kellie Rohrbaugh, director of public affairs for Planned Parenthood of Southwest Missouri, who says her office received a fax alerting them to the funding cuts 45 minutes before the governor's press conference. "We asked the administrator of the program if women had complained about going to Planned Parenthood, and she said we'd been a very good partner. We could get people in quickly, have them seen, refer them to treatment quickly if they needed it."

Hmmm...efficient, friendly, providing affordable quality care to people who most need it. It's obvious why PPSM's funding was first on the chopping block—it's giving lie to the anti's claim to the pro-life banner.


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annamaria at 7:56 PM

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