It seems that we narrowly avoided a government shutdown late last week, but will undoubtedly need to revisit the issue. The major disagreement appears to be that Republicans and Democrats can’t seem to agree upon what to do about Planned Parenthood. For the blissfully ignorant, Planned Parenthood is a semi-publicly funded outlet for public health care, which centers around family planning. In short, a place where the uninsured and/or of limited means can go in order to get their needs met with regard to reproductive health. This includes birth control, certain types of prenatal care, cancer screenings for both men and women, gynecological exams, pap smears, disease and infection screening, and yes (gasp!) abortions. The hullabaloo surrounding the issue seems to be that Republicans wish to discontinue public funding to this organization because they “don’t want to fund abortion.” I could go on and on about the idiocy of the Republican party / religious right / conservative population in general, but in this case, they are resorting to hate and fearmongering tactics to support their position, and succeeding to a certain extent. Here’s what they’re not telling you on Fox News:
1. NO ONE supports abortion. No one likes abortion. Pro-lifers seem to see in only black and white, where they believe that the opposite of being against abortion is being FOR abortion. “Well, if you’re not pro-life, you’re pro-killin’ innocent babies!” Sorry, Scooter, but that just ain’t true. What the non-insane segment of the population is “for” is CHOICE. Would I ever get an abortion? Probably not. But for damn sure if you want an abortion, I think you should be able to do that, within the confines of the law (not after a certain number of weeks, etc.) and within a safe environment. I have many arguments for why choice is the best option, but that’s not really what this is about. What you should take from this particular point is that being pro-choice does not equal being pro-abortion.
2. They’ve failed to mention to you that the government DOESN’T subsidize abortion, and never will. It’s kind of illegal. About 33% of Planned Parenthood’s income comes from the government, and the rest comes from donations and other sources. Planned Parenthood is literally NOT ALLOWED to use government funding to provide abortion services. So, continuing to allow the government to fund Planned Parenthood does NOT fund abortion, in any sense of the word. What you’d be cutting is funding for the million-plus pap smears, the hundreds of thousands of breast exams, the four million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, and education provided. You’d be cutting BASIC HEALTH CARE for millions of people. You’d be cutting necessary tests for detecting cancer early enough to treat it. You’d be cheating hundreds of thousands of people out of affordable birth control, thereby resulting in more unwanted pregnancies, and more people seeking the abortions you dislike so much.
3. The majority (83%, according to their website) of Planned Parenthood’s clientele are seeking birth control and other methods of preventing unintended pregnancy. Approximately 612,000 pregnancies are prevented each year, because Planned Parenthood is able to operate and educate people in an affordable manner. Ignoring the fact that this is 612,000 UNWANTED babies each year who would potentially be born into, if not an overtly abusive or neglectful situation, at least much of the time into poverty, let’s do the math: (Abortion, by the way, accounts for 3% of services provided.)
The figures differ on this, but the general number I keep seeing is that Planned Parenthood received about 300-350 million dollars from the government last year. Let’s be generous and say 350 million dollars.
The cost of raising a child to 18 years of age in a single-parent home where the parent makes less than 45K per year before taxes is approximately 118K dollars. That’s the lowest figure I could find. 612K unprevented pregnancies X 118K per instance is $72,216,000,000. Holy shit, that looks a whole lot like $72 billion dollars, give or take. But wait, that’s if none of those families receive government assistance.
Figures put the governmental budget for welfare services at about $396 billion dollars. In California, welfare affords you $645 per month, per child. Cost to the taxpayers of raising one child to the age of 18: $139,320. Let’s say that half of the preventable pregnancies are to families who receive public assistance. Cost to the taxpayers: $42,631,920,000. What do you know, that 350 million in funding you’re cutting to Planned Parenthood had the opportunity of saving you nearly $43 billion dollars over eighteen years. That’s about 2.3 billion dollars per year saved for your 350 million dollar investment. If MORE than half of the families who wanted affordable birth control receive public assistance, the figure climbs rather quickly.
We also haven’t taken into account the millions of dollars saved by providing preventative cancer screenings to hundreds of thousands of men and women per year. Sure, a prostate screening might be a little expensive, but it’s a lot cheaper than treating prostate cancer. Without insurance or an affordable place to go, how many thousands of people may not catch their cancer until it has become an enormous and EXTREMELY expensive problem? Who’s going to pay for that? Worse yet, how many people would fail to catch a sexually transmitted disease before they had spread it everywhere?
Suddenly, that $350 million dollars doesn’t seem like such a poor investment after all.