Choice News

Friday Femorandum: Productive Rights


Friday Fem is coming out too early to capture the local coverage of Sen. Patty Murray’s Seattle appearance denouncing efforts by Congressional Republican leaders to defund Planned Parenthood even at the risk of a federal government shutdown, so consider this BREAKING NEWS: Sen. Murray stood with Planned Parenthood this morning against her counterparts in the House who voted, 241 to 187, to eliminate the health-care provider’s $500 million in annual federal funding.

In response to claims by opponents that the millions of women and men who rely on Planned Parenthood for reproductive and primary health care can simply “go somewhere else,” Murray said: “It’s appalling to me that they are using that kind of argument because it simply isn’t true. I cannot tell you how many people have told me over the years that they would not have gotten the basic health care that they needed, and education and knowledgeable support, without Planned Parenthood. I believe that women should have the ability to have their own health care provider that they trust, not one picked by someone in Washington, D.C.”

Murray was in good company this week. In anticipation of the vote, former Labor Secretary Robert Reich did a video for Huffington Post defending Planned Parenthood on economic, rather than moral, grounds. And he coined a new term: PROductive rights.

“Public investments in family planning — enabling women to plan, delay, or avoid pregnancy — make economic sense, because reproductive rights are also productive rights,” Reich says in the video. “When women have control over their lives, they can contribute even more to the economy, better break the glass ceiling, equalize the pay gap, and much more.”

[Content note: Graphic description of fetal parts] There have been a lot of fact check posts on this week’s Republican meltdown debate (Politifact’s is pretty good), but Amanda Marcotte’s piece on Slate definitively shreds failed HP chief Carly Fiorina’s claim that the discredited anti-Planned Parenthood videos show “a fully formed fetus on the table, its heart beating, its legs kicking, while someone says we have to keep it alive to harvest its brain.”

After debunking that ridiculous charge (“There is nothing in the videos made by CMP, either in the edited or full-length versions, that has anything approaching images of legs kicking or hearts beating”), Marcotte writes: “Fiorina’s plan to cut contraception access would likely lead to higher, not lower abortion rates. Misleading and sensationalized videos aren’t going to change any of the above.”

Ultimately, it probably doesn’t matter whether people believe lurid descriptions of the tapes are accurate, or whether GOP leaders decide Planned Parenthood has even done anything wrong: As Steve Benen points out on MSNBC, Congressional Republicans have indicated that they want to defund Planned Parenthood regardless of whether the group broke any laws (spoiler: It didn’t), because they just don’t like Planned Parenthood. Or women’s autonomy. “‘The issue is not whether there’s been a crime committed or not,’ Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas.) said last week. ‘This issue is whether or not taxpayers should fund Planned Parenthood.’”

And even if (or when) Congressional efforts to kill Planned Parenthood funding die in the Democratically-controlled House, state-level anti-choice laws will continue to threaten access to reproductive health care across the nation. Since 2011, US News reports, conservative state legislatures have passed and conservative governors have signed 280 new laws restricting or eliminating access to abortion, including 20-week bans, unnecessary “counseling” requirements, and unnecessary code changes that require women’s clinics to meet the same standards as hospitals that perform open-heart surgery.



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