The public policy issue I have selected is of abortion and female reproductive rights and the Bill I have selected to analyze is Bill H.R.354. Planned Parenthood is a resource where men and mainly women go to receive reproductive health services that they cannot afford elsewhere (“Our Services”, 2018) . Although, Planned Parenthood offers a controversial procedure, an abortion, that is stated to not be made possible by taxpayer money (“Hyde Amendment”, 2018). A center of controversy is that a portion of the population believes that abortions are immoral and that planned parenthood does use taxpayer money for abortions. Republican Rep. Diane Black, the woman who introduced the bill H.R.354, the “Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2017”, agrees that federal funding is used to provide abortions. She believes that the Act, one year without federal funding to Planned Parenthood, will help identify if funds are truly used for abortions or not.
Planned Parenthood benefits many people who seek affordable female and male health reproductive health care. Although women and men are greatly benefitted by getting STI check ups, pap smears, birth control and other health care measures, others seem to not care about the greater good that organizations like Planned Parenthood yield (“Our Services”, 2018). Instead critics choose to overlook the vast amount of unwanted pregnancies that Planned Parenthood protects against, and choose to focus on the abortions that Planned Parenthood provides.
Reproductive rights of females, specifically the right of a female to choose to abort her baby has been a politically charged topic since the 1800’s (OBOS Abortion Contributors). In the 1960’s many feminists opposed abortion as it was unsafe to the mother at the time, partially causing all fifty states to outlaw abortion unless if due to rape or incest (OBOS Abortion Contributors). Roe v Wade, a highly controversial U.S supreme court case, in 1973 declared state regulations against abortion and criminalization of abortions to be unconstitutional (Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 1973). The Courts declared that it was unconstitutional for one to criminalize abortion, as to do so violates the 14th amendment right of privacy for a woman. Roe v Wade allowed for an abortion to be recognised to fall under the 14th amendment right of privacy and allowed an abortion to be performed up to three months of pregnancy. (Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113, 1973) After this court case, two parties regarding abortion laws became eminent. The first group is the pro life group, the group that does not support Roe v Wade and or opposes the act of an abortion, under certain circumstances, for reasons personal, religious or ethical. The second group, or the pro-choice group who supports the decision of Roe v Wade and believes that a women has the right to choose what she would like to do with her reproductive health.
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The debate still continues to today, if not escalates with Bill H.R.354, the “Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2017”, introduced by Republican Rep. Diane Black. Bill H.R.354, the “Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2017”. The Bill aims to simply defund Planned Parenthood or “any of its affiliate or clinics” unless they can prove that they have not performed any abortions with the use of federal funding in a one year period (H.R.354, 2017). Although, Bill H.R.354, protects the Hyde Amendment, abortions may be performed not with federal fund and only in the case of rape, incest, or if a “physical condition endangers a woman's life unless [an] abortion is performed” (Dianne, 2017). Although, given the Hyde Amendment, abortion may be performed but not with federal funds (Cates, “The Hyde Amendment in Action”).
Given that federal funding is made possible mostly through taxation, it is understandable that those who oppose abortion would not want their money to go to organizations that provide abortions. A positive of Bill H.R.354 is that through the “Defund Planned Parenthood” Bill, people who do not ideologically support abortion in all cases then will have the peace of mind that they do not in any way financially support abortion, or places that enable the act of an abortion.
Bill H.R.354 indirectly targets abortions but insead will directly limit the amount of reproductive health services that Planned Parenthood can offer to people who really need it. First, Willard Cates Jr, MD, in his journal “The Hyde Amendment in Action: How Did the Restriction of Federal Funds for Abortion Affect Low-Income Women?” writes that the attempts of limiting or eliminating federal funds in order to decrease abortions is harmful to low income women. For example, Cates explains that when the Hyde amendment was enacted, it still resulted in 95% low income women receiving abortions, with 64% receiving abortions though state funding and the rest though alternatively funded sources (Cates, “The Hyde Amendment in Action”). He states that these results are contradictory as those who oppose abortion though means of federal funds, expected the amount of abortions to decrease instead of increasing in actuality. In my opinion, in the case that federal funds are removed from Planned Parenthood centers then perhaps we may have the same effect of the amount of abortions increasing, a future I’d imagine many who oppose abortions would not like.
Second, it is not hard to understand that when less money is donated or funded to Planned Parenthood, the less services they will be able to offer to those who cannot normally afford them. For example, NPR reported in a 2015 article titled ,“Fact Check: How Does Planned Parenthood Spend That Government Money?”, that Planned Parenthood’s revenue, in millions, consists of $528.4 from government funding and $776.1 from a combination for private, non-government services and other revenue sources. In the case if Bill H.R.354 is passed then Planned Parenthood will be harmed as it will lose 40% of its revenue (Kurtzleben, 2015). In a study by the Washington Post, reporters found that the effect of the Texas Government cutting “the two-year budget for funding family planning [in 2011,] from $111 million to $38 million in an effort to defund Planned Parenthood” resulted in the closure of one out of every four family planning centers (Potter and White, 2017). The failure to fund family planning centers then resulted in forcing women who could not afford contraception to be forced to pay the amount it would cost or avoid treatment that they cannot afford completely (Potter and White, 2017). In my opinion, it should not be the case that women are forced to neglect their health when the government has the means to protect their reproductive rights and access to it. To pass Bill H.R.354 is immoral as we have the research that shows the negative consequences of defunding family planning centers that honor the autonomy of a woman over her reproductive rights.
Third , defunding Planned Parenthood, if passed, will result in reducing the amount of birth control provided to women in need leading only to more unwanted births and needed abortions. If Bill H.R.354 is passed, women who cannot afford an abortion nor birth control will have to consider the foster care system as an option. Although that is a noble thing to do, to give a child you cannot take care of and give to someone who cannot have a child, the foster care system of today is not a happy nor safe place for a child. One can say that choosing life or not going through with an abortion can promote the greater good, but that is not true.
Lastly, the foster care system, should not be an option for why a woman should be forced to carry her child to term if she cannot keep her child. The foster care system is already impacted and the statistics such as, “one in four kids in foster care will experience PTSD”, “61% of the children who are removed from their family household are done so because of neglect”, “1 in 3 children are removed from their parents or caretakers because there is drug abuse in the home” and many more statistics that are too painful to type show that family planning services are highly important as they can prevent a child from facing such harm (Crystal, 2017). Whether or not the republican base wants Bill H.R. 354 to pass so they can have peace at mind that abortion services are not being serviced with their taxpayer money, it is unfair for them to punish all family planning services as a whole. It is unfair for the children yet unborn to be put into households that cannot take care of them; when in reality it could have been simple family planning services, other than abortion, that could have saved lives instead of ruining them.
In my opinion, Bill H.R. 354 should not become a law as it is unacceptable to have one's religious beliefs, way of life, and or values to be imposed on anyone that isn't themselves. For example, it is acceptable for one to not agree with abortion but it is immoral to target a group that provides abortion legally. The are other ways to confirm the true use of federal funds used by Planned Parenthood, ways that do not involve cutting funding from those who need it. For example, those who doubt the true use of federal funding of Planned Parenthood could contract someone, such as a unbiased financial analyst to uncover the truth instead of taking other drastic measures.
I agree with most who agree with the pro-abortion stance but especially Peter singer and Judith Jarvis Thomson. Peter Singer, a pro-abortion philosopher, states in the book “The Oxford Companion to Philosophy”, that abortion is not immoral as it is not a human that we are aborting but rather a person, the distinction lying in the fact that a fetus does not have self awareness nor a rational mind (Ted Honderich, 2). Singer’s stance works to strengthen philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson’s claims in her text 'A Defense of Abortion,' that an abortion is not the killing of a human being and that an abortion should be carried out before a fetus feels pain. (Thomson, 46-47). I agree that abortion is not immoral but only immoral if done carelessly and repetitively. I especially agree with Thomson that if abortion is carried out, it should be performed in a fashion that promotes the wellbeing of all involved.
Ultimately, it is not the role of the government to tell us when we can and cannot have kids, but it should be the role of the government to guarantee that every child born is born into a family that can take care of them. I believe it is not the life of a fetus we should worry ourselves with but rather the quality of life a fetus can grow to live if allowed to. In a perfect world we do not have to abort children, in a perfect world mothers and fathers can take care of their children, and in a perfect world a mother does not have to consider if an abortion ensures that her child will not have to grow up in a world that will only ensure him or her pain. Although, this is not a perfect world, we can make it one. By not allowing Bill H.R. 354 to pass, would be a step forward into a perfect future, a perfect world.
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