Thomas Jefferson once wrote, “To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical.”
This simple principle explains why I have fought alongside fellow pro-life colleagues for years to prohibit federal funding from going to organizations that perform abortions, including Planned Parenthood. Not everyone is pro-life like I am, but those who are should not be forced to have their tax dollars fund an organization that aborts more than 350,000 unborn babies every year.
Federal law has long prohibited public funds from being used to actually perform abortions. However, Planned Parenthood gets millions in grants and reimbursements for the other services they provide, like pregnancy tests, birth control, pap smears, STD tests, and various treatments.
Of course, low-income women should have access to these critical services. But, why is it necessary for those services to be funded at the nation’s largest provider of abortion? It isn’t actually, but the abortion industry and its supporters want you to think it is.
When it comes to funding, they liked to pretend abortion doesn’t exist and that Planned Parenthood is the only place where low-income women can get health care. Taking away federal funding from Planned Parenthood means attacking “women’s health,” they say.
That’s not true. The truth is there are more than 13,000 Federally Qualified and Rural Health Centers throughout this country offering low-cost health care to women. In fact, these centers outnumber Planned Parenthood clinics 20-1.
If those who defend federal funding of Planned Parenthood truly just wanted to make sure low-income women have access to health care, and not abortion, why not agree to simply support these non-controversial community health centers instead?
That’s a question I posed on the House floor during a recent debate on a bill to stop federal funding from going to Planned Parenthood.
If this argument is really about making sure women have access to health care, I said, we could all agree right now to support these community health centers. But, that’s not what it is about. You see, while Federally Qualified and Rural Health Centers provide a wide range of medical services, they don’t perform abortions. And, that’s what they really want: to preserve the pipeline of funding to the nation’s largest abortion provider. Talk of “women’s health” is nothing but a charade; a false pretense that I believe more and more Americans are beginning to realize is phony.
The Defunding Planned Parenthood Act passed the House by a vote of 241-187, and it now will be up to the Senate to advance the bill to the president’s desk. Given the gridlock in the Senate and President Obama’s strong support of Planned Parenthood, I realize the chance of our bill becoming law is slim. However, that won’t stop me from fighting to advance the cause of defending the unborn.
Martha Roby represents Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. She is currently serving her third term.