It seems that everywhere I turn, I see Republicans calling for an end to big government and calling for the government to get out of our wallets and out of our health care. Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota even said “under no circumstances will I give the government control over my body and my health care decisions.”
I find it funny, then, that Republicans in the House of Representatives voted last week to cut not only all of Planned Parenthood’s $75 million in federal money, but the entire Title X budget. There’s been a lot of controversy over this vote, particularly because Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute.
Many people are in favor of cutting money to Planned Parenthood because they don’t want their tax money going to pay for abortions. What these people seem to overlook, however, is that Planned Parenthood is neither solely dedicated to providing abortions (which, I might add, are completely legal in this country), nor is it the only clinic affected by this slash in money.
Title X provides money for all sorts of reproductive health care. STI (sexually transmitted infection) screenings, contraceptives, pelvic exams and pap smears are all provided by clinics, including Planned Parenthood, that receive Title X money. These clinics provided services to about 4.7 million women in 2008, according to the Guttmacher Institute. A lot of these women do not have health insurance or other resources to see a private doctor, and rely on Title X-funded clinics to provide vital health care services — services that can save their lives.
The vote to cut Title X money doesn’t make any service illegal. It doesn’t explicitly say that pap smears or HIV tests or birth control pills are illegal. It doesn’t explicitly make any decisions for women. It doesn’t dictate what a woman should or should not do with regards to her body.
But for 4.7 million women, it effectively takes away the choice to be on birth control or test for cervical cancer.
By taking away money, Republicans have taken away clinics. No clinics means that some women do not have the autonomy to make their own health care decisions. To me, that looks a lot like government control against health care decisions.
How does a party that pushes for a small government with little control against people’s individual choices validate its actions to impose government control against health care choices? For all the Republicans’ talk about autonomy, it seems wrong to me that they would vote to take away said autonomy from millions of women.
Bachmann, by the way, voted in favor of cutting Title X money.