In The New York Times, freelance journalist Meaghan Winter called attention to the dangerous implications of conservative attempts to defund Planned Parenthood, which have been bolstered by right-wing media citing the repeatedly debunked deceptively-edited videos smearing the reproductive health care provider. As Winter explained, the consequences of defunding Planned Parenthood could hit low-income women the hardest.
Repeated Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood have been championed and propelled by right-wing media citing the series of deceptively edited videos released by the anti-choice Center for Medical Progress (CMP). CMP has been falsely smearing Planned Parenthood by baselessly claiming the health care provider profits from the illegal sale of fetal tissue. While this "campaign of deception" has been debunked repeatedly by media, experts, and several federal and state investigations, conservative media have continued to promote the falsehoods to attack Planned Parenthood. Right-wing media have also provided ammunition for lawmakers seeking to defund the women's health care provider by unrealistically claiming that community clinics could fill the gap if Planned Parenthood lost funding - an assertion that health experts have explained is impossible.
In a November 12 opinion piece for The New York Times, Winter highlighted the dire consequences of conservative attempts to defund Planned Parenthood. Noting that the most dangerous threats to the vital health care services provided by Planned Parenthood -- cancer screenings, ultrasounds, contraception and other services -- are occurring on the state level, Winter explained that “legislators in at least 11 states have proposed bills designed to restrict Planned Parenthood” just since July, when the videos smearing Planned Parenthood were first released. When Republicans fight to defund Planned Parenthood and these types of providers are shut down, Winter explained, “they leave low-income women with few alternatives for reproductive and preventive health care,” and effectively force “thousands of women seeking low-cost health care [to end] up at crisis pregnancy centers.” Winter noted that the effects of these crisis pregnancy centers, which are being funded by some of the very states trying to defund Planned Parenthood, often mean women are “coerced to continue” unwanted pregnancies “through misinformation or a lack of access,” and consequently “lose control” of their bodies, education, finances, and futures:
The Republicans who voted in September to block Planned Parenthood's funding weren't protesting covering abortion with federal dollars -- that's been restricted since 1977. Instead, they want to prevent Planned Parenthood from providing cancer screenings, ultrasounds, contraception and other services.
The question is not whether the federal government will defund Planned Parenthood -- it won't -- but how many states will. Since July, legislators in at least 11 states have proposed bills designed to restrict Planned Parenthood from providing health care to low-income women.
When providers like Planned Parenthood are shut down, they leave low-income women with few alternatives for reproductive and preventive health care. While lawmakers say they'll transfer funds to community health centers, there are too few to meet the need.
Today, thousands of women seeking low-cost health care are ending up at crisis pregnancy centers. Nationwide, there are more than 3,000 anti-choice centers advertising free services, like options counseling, pregnancy tests and ultrasounds. They now outnumber abortion clinics by at least three to one.
These organizations and their friendly volunteers may seem innocuous, but the centers are often staffed by evangelical women who lack professional licenses and belong to religious organizations that actively discourage them from recommending contraception, let alone abortion. Two such organizations, Heartbeat International and Care Net, coach staff members to seem credible to “abortion-minded” women by scrubbing their websites, signage and waiting rooms of all evidence of their underlying evangelical goals. Staff members themselves say their centers are most appealing to young women without anywhere else to turn.
When a woman is coerced to continue an unwanted pregnancy through misinformation or lack of access, she loses control of her body, education, finances -- her future. The struggle for reproductive rights is inextricable from other movements for racial and economic justice. We will not achieve equal opportunity until a poor woman has the same sovereignty over her body and her future as a wealthy man. We must roll back the anti-choice legislation in our states that holds back equality.