Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Hating Planned Parenthood Because It Keeps Women Out of Poverty

And women who are not chained by poverty are not slaves to the corporatocracy or theocracy.

Bryce Covert at The Nation:

Already forgotten in the aftermath of the San Bernardino shootings is a more persistent terrorist threat to average Americans: right-wing extremists. Robert Lewis Dear, who shot and killed three people at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, has since pleaded guilty to being a “warrior for the babies.” His actions follow a long tradition of violence against abortion providers. That violence is increasing: The number of clinics reporting threats and targeted intimidation has increased from about 25 percent to more than 50 percent since 2010.

Dear’s terrorism hasn’t affected the GOP’s congressional crusade against the women’s-healthcare provider, however. Immediately after the shooting, Senate Republicans said they would proceed with efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, which currently receives about $500 million from the federal government. About 80 percent of Planned Parenthood’s clients are low-income (which is measured as being at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty line).

Unintended pregnancies among poor women have been increasing, while those among well-off women are falling.

What terrorists like Dear and Republicans in Congress want is basically the same: to shut down Planned Parenthood and deny women access to abortions. If they got their wish, it would serve only to make poor women poorer and increase the number of unintended pregnancies.

Shutting down Planned Parenthood wouldn’t just affect access to abortion, of course. The group provides many other services to low-income women. Poor women are more likely to have sex without birth control—and access to affordable contraception would shrink further without the existence of Planned Parenthood. Among 491 counties with Planned Parenthood clinics, 103 have no other place where low-income patients can obtain affordable contraception.

Access to reproductive healthcare is certainly about women’s right to bodily autonomy. But doing away with that right also comes with devastating economic consequences, especially for those already at the bottom. Eliminating Planned Parenthood would create a vicious cycle of impoverishment and unwanted pregnancies for the most vulnerable women among us.

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