Planned Parenthood is once again the center of national debate, and this time, Congress is threatening to use the issue of abortion as a reason to shut down the Federal government. While the notion of slashing Planned Parenthood funding may be a vehicle to rally social Conservatives, if Republicans leverage this controversial issue to once again pull a shutdown, it will likely backfire. One in five women will use Planned Parenthood in their lifetimes. Further, abortion comprises only 3% of the organization’s services. The bulk of their focus is on STD prevention, cancer screenings and contraception. Republicans advocating a shutdown risk sending a message that women’s health care is not important, belying their own talking points about “outreach.”
Contrary to common misperception, tax dollars cannot subsidize abortion services and have not since 1976. Shutting down Planned Parenthood centers would result in reducing access to other healthcare services for most of their patients. Again, we are punishing the women — and men — that use Planned Parenthood, particularly those in poverty.
Author and media strategist Shawna Vercher states, “This shutdown threat is insulting to voters and makes them appear one-dimensional. If they are focusing their energy on this wedge issue, then they are not doing actual work in Congress on fixing the country.” Shawna pointed out that many people consider abortion to be a private issue and that even those who are personally anti-abortion will not appreciate the government being held hostage for this reason. They also may not take kindly to anyone shutting down one of the largest providers of women’s healthcare in the country.
Will Congress use Planned Parenthood as a reason to shut down the Federal Government? How will voters react – particularly conservative voters – if they do? Join the discussion and watch the latest episode of Dare We Say.