In April, House Republicans appeared to put aside plans for denying federal family-planning money to Planned Parenthood. Of late, they have returned to the idea, Lynn Wachtmann, the chairman of the Health and Aging Committee, leading the way. Hard to overstate how shortsighted such a step would be. Many women depend on Planned Parenthood for access to such essential health services as prenatal care, birth control and breast and cervical cancer screenings.
What Wachtmann and allies have proposed is a tiered system for distributing the federal money. The new structure would put any family planning provider last in line. For Planned Parenthood, that would translate into the loss of roughly $1.7 million a year for birth control and preventive care.
Worth stressing is that the new structure would put in jeopardy HIV testing and prevention information. Planned Parenthood also would lose money that goes to screening 600 Ohio women for breast and cervical cancer. Another program that would suffer teaches 500 students about how to prevent abusive relationships. It would mean the end of an Infertility Prevention Program now treating 31,000 men and women across the state.
Critics howl about the abortion services provided by Planned Parenthood. Of course, abortion is legal. What shouldn’t be overlooked is that more than 96 percent of Planned Parenthood services involve preventive care. Why make access to such services more difficult?
Recall that federal funding for family planning programs started under Richard Nixon, and expanded during the presidency of George Bush the elder. Both recognized the importance of such programs to women — and more, the smart fiscal policy, each dollar invested in family planning saving nearly $4. Surely, at the Statehouse, they have more important priorities than denying access to health care and inviting wasteful spending.