Paul Ryan continues to lead the fight against taxpayer subsidized abortion. While many GOP representatives would rather delay that fight until after Obamacare issues are resolved, he has gone forward with a proposal to defund Planned Parenthood.
While this is in keeping with his promises to fight the good fight against subsidizing abortions, it’s actually a very complicated political process with deep underlying motives. Liberals will call this an attack on women’s rights and a major setback for the progressive agenda, but a deeper look at everything happening debunks these ideas.
The first step in untangling this mess is understanding how the funding works. The U.S. government does not explicitly write checks to Planned Parenthood. Instead, many services, primarily preventative in nature, are covered under blanket Medicaid plans. Any attempt to defund the organization would have to come through removing its eligibility for Medicaid reimbursement.
Before we get into the political agendas behind this process, let’s look at some raw numbers. Planned Parenthood serves roughly 2.5 million patients a year. Right about 60 percent of those patients are on Medicaid. If you put it together, you find that Planned Parenthood received roughly half a billion dollars a year in federal funding through these reimbursements.
It’s also worth noting that many clinics have much higher Medicaid participation rates, so completely removing Planned Parenthood from eligibility would undoubtedly cause a number of clinics to close. This leads us to a few important questions. Why should Planned Parenthood be defunded? What happens to the patients who lose their clinics?
You knew this was coming, and regardless of your personal views on abortion, any discussion about Planned Parenthood will include a talk about abortion. Under the current law, the federal government cannot reimburse healthcare providers for abortion services.
That holds true for Planned Parenthood, but things are not quite so cut and dried. For a single abortion patient, many services are performed, and a number of them can be deemed preventative, enabling a Medicaid reimbursement.
The actual abortion procedure itself may not be funded, but many additional fees are. This results in inevitably using federal dollars to make abortions more accessible. The GOP’s defunding plan would force Medicaid users to seek services at clinics that do not perform abortions or else pay out of pocket.
Things are already pretty murky. Federal dollars don’t exactly pay for every service related to abortions on paper, but in reality they subsidize much of the cost. The next major criticism from the left is that defunding Planned Parenthood would restrict low-income women from having access to health care. There is a nugget of truth here. If clinics close, there are fewer options.
That said, Planned Parenthood clinics represent a complete minority of overall options. Alternative clinics that are approved by the proposed bill outnumber Planned Parenthood by roughly 20 to 1, and most experts agree that they can easily absorb the new patients.
The only real service that is lacking under this proposal is abortion. It will be decisively more difficult to find a provider to perform the services, and without Medicaid reimbursement, the overall procedure will be more expensive for those seeking out the procedure.
If things weren’t complicated enough, this bill is also considered an attack on women’s reproductive rights. This is probably the murkiest part of the whole issue. Whether an abortion is a reproductive right is the core of the entire debate, and it boils down to moral differences.
This isn’t the forum to debate that morality, so instead we’ll focus on whether or not this proposition assaults the perceived right to abortion. It doesn’t. This is most easily viewed from the perspective of religious endorsement.
The morality of abortion boils down to religious differences. It is the reason the government is barred from paying for the services in the first place, and making it more difficult for government funds to be appropriated for abortions is not an inhibition on the right to have one.
Defunding Planned Parenthood is actually the only appropriate course of action for a government that stands on the principle of separating church and state.
Let’s recap. Currently, Medicaid reimbursements indirectly offset some of the costs of abortions performed by Planned Parenthood. Because so many of their clientele are dependent on Medicaid, the proposed defunding bill would cause clinics to close. While that does represent a small change for some women, there are already enough clinics in place to absorb the new patients.
In the end, the maneuver is one that respects the current letter of the law and further distances the government from endorsing or banning the practice of abortion.
~ Conservative Zone