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Associated Press
While Planned Parenthood – including this clinic in York, Pa. – makes an easy target for partisan wrath, the truth is that its family-planning services help reduce the number of abortions nationwide.
Editorials

No family values here

Planned Parenthood’s mission to make health care and family-planning services accessible makes it an easy target for politicians pandering to a conservative base. Attacking the very public face of an organization with a 95-year history of providing basic and life-saving health services doesn’t even require much effort.

Why do the hard work of preventing unplanned pregnancies when you can rally the troops with an attack on Planned Parenthood?

Indiana Congressman Mike Pence might have bolstered his conservative credentials with a budget amendment to prohibit the allocation of federal funds to the agency. But Americans who can look past the rhetoric should urge the Senate to defeat the wrong-headed move.

Pence’s latest attack was fueled by a video sting operation by Live Action, an anti-abortion group. Actors posing as sex traffickers went to clinics in at least six states asking for information on services for sex workers.

On the heels of the video malfeasance unjustly targeting Shirley Sherrod of the Department of Agriculture and James O’Keefe’s undercover sting at ACORN offices and Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu’s office, it seems viewers would be more wary of easily manipulated “evidence.” But the Planned Parenthood video didn’t need to be authentic because the amendment’s entire aim is based on the false assertion that the agency promotes abortion.

The GOP-controlled House cut the entire $317 million aid program for family planning, known as Title X. Pence’s amendment prohibits Planned Parenthood from receiving any federal funds for any purpose.

The cuts represent no victory in preventing abortion or in saving taxpayer dollars. The Hyde Amendment since 1977 has prohibited federal funding of abortion except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother. The health care reform act approved last year came with an executive order from President Obama to preserve the funding ban.

Title X-supported family planning centers served 4.7 million women in 2008, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on sexual and reproductive health research, education and policy analysis.

“The contraceptive services provided at these centers helped women and couples avoid 973,000 unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in 433,000 unplanned births and 406,000 abortions,” according to the institute. “Without these services, unintended pregnancy and abortion in the United States would be one-third higher.”

The move is costly for Indiana.

“(I)t means (Planned Parenthood of Indiana) would lose $3 million in federal family planning dollars and Medi- caid reimbursements that serve 22,000 patients,” said PPIN President and CEO Betty Cockrum before Friday’s House vote. “The funding is used to pay for birth control, Pap tests, and diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted disease. It is money that is used to reduce the incidence of abortion through education and prevention. … It makes no sense.”

Looking for logic in partisan grand-standing is a lost cause. Anyone truly committed to reducing the incidence of abortion should demand the Senate reverse the dangerous course set by the House, ensuring that access to birth control, prenatal care and testing for cervical and breast cancer remains accessible to the low-income residents who depend on Planned Parenthood and other Medicaid providers for family planning and basic health services.

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