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July 30 2012

New York Times: GOP "Anti-Woman"

Charlotte Hays

Loaded lead of the day (so far):

Even with a persistent gender gap in a presidential election year, House Republicans have not given up on their campaign to narrow access to birth control, abortion care and lifesaving cancer screenings. Far from it.

This is from an editorial in today’s New York Times. The second paragraph continues the scary tone:

A new Republican spending proposal revives some of the more extreme attacks on women’s health and freedom that were blocked by the Senate earlier in this Congress. The resurrection is part of an alarming national crusade that goes beyond abortion rights and strikes broadly at women’s health in general.

The proposals under consideration come from the House Appropriations Subcommittee. They would end federal funding for Planned Parenthood unless it agrees to cease performing abortions. Also, according to the editorial, funding for Title X, a federal family planning program for low-income women that includes cancer screening, would be eliminated. Implementation of much of the vastly unpopular Affordable Care Act would also be halted. Specifically:

It would seriously weaken the requirement that employee insurance plans cover birth control and other preventive health services by allowing any employer to opt out based on personal religious beliefs or moral objections.

The issue here is religious freedom, not access to contraception “and other preventative health services.” The Republicans simply don’t want the federal government to be in the position of forcing religious employers to pay for services they regard as morally repugnant or sinful. This is not the same as restricting contraception: the law leaves you free to purchase contraception but it doesn’t force, say, an order of Catholic nuns that operates a hospital to pay for it. The Times has every right to argue against religious freedom, but it should be straight with its readers in setting forth the terms of the debate.

The editorial also neglected to mention how much federal money Planned Parenthood gets from the federal government. In 2008-2009, Planned Parenthood received $363.2 million from the government. About $70 million of that went to the aforementioned Title X. In an era of tight economic times, these figures are germane to the debate. But they weren’t included in the editorial.

One other interesting quote from the editorial:

[The Republican plan] would also eliminate financing for Title X, the effective federal family-planning program for low-income women that provides birth control, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and testing for sexually-transmitted diseases. Without this program, some women would die, and unintended pregnancies would rise, resulting in some 400,000 more abortions a year and increases in Medicaid-related costs, according to the Guttmacher Institute, a leading authority on reproductive health.

The editorial should have noted that, in addition to being “a leading authority on reproductive health,” the Guttmacher Institute is closely tied to Planned Parenthood. As its website notes:

The Guttmacher Institute was founded in 1968 as the Center for Family Planning Program Development….

The Center was originally housed within the corporate structure of Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA). Its program, however, was independently developed and overseen by a National Advisory Council separate from the PPFA Board of Directors. Its early development was nurtured by Alan F. Guttmacher, an eminent obstetrician-gynecologist, teacher and writer who was PPFA's president for more than a decade until his death in 1974.

If the Times wants to allege a GOP war on women, depicted in terms of budget cuts to services, the editorial should have been honest about sources, pehaps even citing some that don't have a vested interest in keeping the federal spigot on.

If you get to the last paragraph of this editorial, you will see the real target:

There is a striking overlap between the subcommittee’s regressive politics and the polices espoused by the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, Mitt Romney. That makes it a window on what a Romney presidency could mean for women’s rights and lives.

A Romney presidency would not reduce women's rights--but it might affect their lives by getting the economy going.

This editorial, which looks like a Planned Parenthood or Obama campaign plant, is unworthy of a once-great newspaper.

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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