Jeb Bush recently said something dumb. Now, Jeb Bush is not dumb. Far from it. But politicians who have to talk all day for weeks at a time are prone to slip up. He said:
“I’m not sure we need a half a billion dollars for women’s health issues — but if you took dollar for dollar, there are many extraordinarily fine organizations, community health organizations that exist, federally sponsored community health organizations to provide quality care for women on a wide variety of health issues. But abortion should not be funded by the government, any government in my mind.”
He later clarified that he meant to say, that in the context of Planned Parenthood, money given to the abortion provider should be spent on other, more worthy health initiatives. So why did Jeb Bush say what he said?
Well, the most logical answer would be that Jeb was tripped up by the pro-choice movement’s own concerted effort to twist political rhetoric into something divorced from reality. It’s a long-standing goal of the pro-choice movement to make an elective procedure that kills gestating human beings synonymous with “health care.” If you don’t believe me, see the “community campaign” over at abortionishealthcare.com. Or maybe you could read this HuffPo op-ed from the CEO of Planned Parenthood New York City headlined “Abortion is Health Care.” In December, Cecile Richards, the national president of Planned Parenthood, wrote an op-ed headlined “Women’s Health Care Under Attack: Sneak Preview of 2015.” In other words, Richards was already planning to accuse pro-life politicians who oppose Planned Parenthood of attacking women’s “health care” long before Jeb Bush put his foot in his mouth.
Abortion Isn’t Health Care
So before we go along with this Orwellian attempt to describe dismembering a fetus in the womb as “women’s health care,” let’s get something straight. Abortion is about “women’s health care” the way that the Civil War was said to be about “states’ rights.” It’s a convenient distraction from the moral atrocity that defines the conflict, designed to make those who take the odious position seem justified.
Even more disturbing, pro-choice activists have been remarkably successful at getting the media to help them bowdlerize the debate such that Jeb Bush gets pilloried throughout the press for an obvious mistake. Meanwhile, at outlets such as The Atlantic, we get Gillian White attacking Jeb Bush and declaring that “Planned Parenthood receives about $530 million from the government annually, or $3 per woman per year. Seems pretty worth it.” Out of this 600 words of argumentative sludge defending federal funds to Planned Parenthood, you know what word is missing? That’s right, “abortion.” Apparently, some of Planned Parenthood’s defenders can’t even bring themselves to mention it, lest they have to wrestle with the concrete reality of endorsing an organization that surgically dismembers fetuses and founded on the rationale that that abortion leads “ultimately to a cleaner race.”
No genuinely objective person — and by that, I mean precious few journalists — thinks it’s accurate or fair to say the recent attempts to deny Planned Parenthood tax dollars is an attack on women’s health. In fact, the recent Senate bill that would have defunded Planned Parenthood didn’t just strip Planned Parenthood of the hundreds of millions in federal funds it receives every year, it would have taken that money and distributed it to other providers of health care for women. If Democrats in Congress agreed to defund Planned Parenthood in exchange for quadrupling the amount of federal dollars spent on health care for women, the pro-life members of Congress would leap to take that deal.
Nonetheless, Planned Parenthood supporters like to pretend that the organization’s rasion d’etre is something other than abortion. “I shouldn’t have to point this out, but I guess I do: abortion is not funded by the government, by law,” wrote The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent earlier this month. “Saying ‘abortion should not be funded by the government’ as an argument for forbidding women to get health services from Planned Parenthood is like saying that because some supermarkets sell beer, food stamps shouldn’t be able to be used at supermarkets, even though food stamps can’t be used to buy beer.”
Planned Parenthood Doesn’t Deserve The Benefit Of The Doubt
The idea that the federal funds Planned Parenthood gets aren’t fungible and that there’s some sort of strict firewall that keeps your tax dollars from subsidizing abortion is as laughable as Sargent’s analogy is daft. If this is true, Planned Parenthood will happily agree to a third-party audit clearly demonstrating all of the federal funds aren’t subsidizing abortion, right? This assertion also relies on the notion that Planned Parenthood can be relied on to act honorably. Call me crazy, but when your organization has been caught on tape helping pimps make trafficking underage girls look “as legit as possible,” maybe they don’t get the benefit of the doubt about following the law or looking out for “women’s health.” And just last week, Planned Parenthood was caught lying about how its Texas facilities didn’t participate in fetal tissue research after they were caught on tape by the Center for Medical Progress picking out baby parts out of a dish and bragging about their long history of selling them.
It’s also worth noting that Planned Parenthood is by no measure the largest provider of “women’s health care” in the country. There are more than 9,000 community health care centers in the country, compared to 700 for Planned Parenthood. And the organization and its supporters have brazenly pretended that the organization provides health care services that it doesn’t in order to make Planned Parenthood seem more needed than it is. President Obama himself claimed that “there are millions of women all across the country who rely on Planned Parenthood for not just contraceptive care; they rely on it for mammograms.” But Planned Parenthood doesn’t do any mammograms — none at all. There’s plenty of ways to offer women’s health services without making women rely on abortion providers.
But let’s consider the first part of what Obama said, and let’s take a really expansive view of “women’s health care” and say that it includes contraceptive services. In May, Sens. Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) introduced the “Allowing Greater Access to Safe and Effective Contraception Act,” to make oral contraceptives legal to sell over the counter without a prescription, an idea that a great many national Republicans favor.
How did the pro-choice community react? NARAL Pro-Choice America’s president Ilyse Hogue said the “bill is a (sic) specifically designed to deceive voters into thinking these anti-choice legislators are on the side of women, when their track records tell a starkly different story.” In other words, the politics of abortion are so scorched earth, that demonstrable effort to increase access to birth control is to be opposed if it would redound to the credit of pro-life politicians. It’s odd how these supposed champions of women’s health services now find themselves strongly opposed to efforts to make health care for women much easier to obtain.
The Schism Between The Physical And Political Treatment Of Human Beings
Of course, Planned Parenthood also officially opposes over the counter birth control in no small part because that would mean fewer women would go to Planned Parenthood for birth control prescriptions. And that in turn helps subsidize all the abortions they perform. To the extent that women need birth control and other health services, they can easily be provided without Planned Parenthood being federally subsidized. If this country is as pro-choice as Planned Parenthood insists it is, the people who believe that “women’s health care” includes the right to kill a child in the womb specifically because you’re a woman can stand up and pay for it without reaching into my pocket for the blood money.
Abortion is not health care, pure and simple. If you believe in abortion, the least you can do is forthrightly argue that it’s a moral act without arguing it’s something that it’s not. The more pro-choice activists find themselves pretending that the debate to defund Planned Parenthood is about “women’s health care,” the more they’re only fooling themselves. In the Obama era, the phrase “wrong side of history” has been oft abused. But if we are to determine who is on the wrong side of history, a good litmus test is figuring out who is employing nakedly political rhetoric to win what is at heart a moral debate. In this respect, no other debate since slavery and its related racial sins has created a such a jarring schism between politics and the physical treatment of human beings. We all know the Civil War wasn’t really fought over states’ rights. And one day, 150 years from now, we’ll look back with the same kind of horror at people who say abortion is about “women’s health care.”