Editorial: How the 'family values legislature' is destroying families
Posted April 18
A CBC Editorial: Tuesday, April 18, 2017; Editorial # 8149
The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company
The simplest and best way to reduce abortions is to avoid unwanted pregnancies.
The best way to avoid an unwanted pregnancy is through sound family planning, access to contraceptives and good affordable health care for women. It is not complicated and shouldn’t be controversial.
But it is, largely because one of the best providers of these services and information to help women avoid unwanted pregnancies happens to be an organization that also offers legal abortion services to women – Planned Parenthood.
Making access to abortions more difficult will not lead to any reduction.
Last week President Donald Trump, after Vice President Mike Pence cast a tie-breaking vote in the Senate, signed a law to cut off federal funding for family planning services to groups that perform abortions.
The law eliminated an Obama administration rule to prevent state and local governments from withholding federal funds from health providers for family planning services related to contraception, fertility, sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy health care, cervical and breast cancer – if they also provided abortion services.
North Carolina law already prevents state funds from going to “family planning services, pregnancy prevention activities or adolescent parenting programs” that are operated by groups that also provide abortion services. The provision in the 2015 state budget was carefully crafted to avoid any conflicts with funding from the federal Medicaid program.
The new federal law, signed last week, opens the way for the state legislature to expand its prohibition to include the federal Title X family planning program that offers cancer screenings, sexually transmitted infection treatment and other preventive health care services to low-income and uninsured. North Carolina’s inexplicable refusal to expand Medicaid to cover the more than 500,000 people who cannot afford care makes these services even more important.
It doesn’t seem to bother legislators who are blocking the most needy North Carolinians from the health care they need while they’re also cutting off access to care a few of those same people are now able to get.
This is not a small matter in North Carolina. Should the legislature broaden its ban, as many as 91,440 people who used Planned Parenthood health service in the past year, might not have access to important health care.
There’s no reason, given the ideological tilt of the General Assembly’s leadership and its current ban on the use of state funds, that it won’t jump at the opportunity to extend that ban to the federal funds.
Attorney General Josh Stein had North Carolina join with 16 other state attorneys general in a friend-of-the-court brief in a federal case opposing an Ohio law that bars grants to Planned Parenthood for health services because it also provides abortions.
“Planned Parenthood provides needed preventive and primary health care services to women across North Carolina. This law and other similar measures force health care providers to choose between these critical health care services and delivering reproductive health care. This is not only wrong, it’s against the Constitution.”
Stein has the right focus here. His concern is on making sure that all those who need it can get good medical care and quality advice on female-health issues – including those involving family planning and contraception. Whatever other legal services Planned Parenthood provides are not relevant.
Stigmatizing and penalizing Planned Parenthood won’t accomplish anything. Passing laws against funding important and effective programs will only compound the issue anti-abortion activists claim to target.
Finding ways to provide effective and safe contraception along with more avenues to help bring children together with adoptive parents are better focuses of lawmakers’ time and attention.
Removing the need for abortions by supporting programs that reduce unintended pregnancies is the far more effective policy.