Posted by: gdevi | February 19, 2011

Does Axing Family Planning help “Family Values”?

Lock Haven Express, Viewpoint, Friday, February 25, 2011.

Does axing family planning help “Family Values”?

Like many rational people in the country, indeed the world over, I am shocked and dismayed at the recent passing of the Pence amendment that takes away federal funding for Planned Parenthood clinics all across the nation. The Pence amendment eliminates the entire 75 million dollar federal funding for Planned Parenthood clinics as well as the complete 317 million dollar Title X (Public Health Service Act of 1970 signed by Republican president Nixon) budget that delivers primary reproductive health care and family planning services to economically disadvantaged Americans.

Representative Pence (R-Indiana) as well as his supporters see this as a victory for anti-abortion activists, even though the 1977 Hyde amendment explicitly prohibits federal funding of abortion except in cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother under medical duress.

Planned Parenthood is not merely an abortion clinic as Representative Pence would have it portrayed; while it provides abortion referrals, and pregnancy options, this is where economically disadvantaged Americans go to get primary reproductive health care services such as comprehensive sexuality education, affordable birth control on a sliding fee scale, HIV screenings, breast cancer and cervical cancer screenings, testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, menopause treatments, tubal ligation, and vasectomies. Less than 2% of Planned Parenthood funding and services involve abortions. Pence amendment has effectively retarded affordable family planning and basic reproductive health care for millions of Americans who avail of their services in the 800 Planned Parenthood centers nationwide.

Today, the republicans who overwhelmingly voted for the amendment and the democrats who aided them have set back basic reproductive healthcare for poor Americans in this country by 95 years. Nurse and educator Margaret Sanger who witnessed first hand the dangers of sexual misinformation amongst girls and women struggling with repeated pregnancies, and self-induced and life-threatening abortions founded the first birth control clinic in the nation in Brooklyn in 1916. Sanger’s own mother, a devout Catholic bore eighteen pregnancies with eleven live births and died of cervical cancer and tuberculosis in old age.

Sanger became convinced of the need for women to practice birth control (she coined the term) when she assisted in the treatment of a poor Lower East Side woman Sadie Sachs who later died of self-induced abortion. In one of the appalling instances of the “Just say no,” advice, Sanger heard the attending male doctor tell Sachs that the only way to avoid unwanted pregnancies was to abstain from sexual intercourse.

Often arrested and jailed for distributing “obscene” pamphlets, as the authorities dubbed Sanger’s initial efforts to teach women about their body’s reproductive behavior and how to avoid pregnancies, Sanger eventually opened a family planning and birth control clinic in Brooklyn in 1916 to teach American women how to better manage their fertility and reproductive cycles. Sanger founded the American Birth Control League in 1921 and in 1923 established the Clinical Research Bureau to advance clinical contraceptive research. By then, leading medical doctors and philanthropists such as John D. Rockefeller Jr. started supporting and funding Sanger’s public health initiatives and Sanger was able to establish the first “legal” birth control clinic in the nation, now known as the Margaret Sanger Research Bureau. In 1927 Sanger helped organize the first World Population Conference in Geneva.

Sanger’s American Birth Control League became the Planned Parenthood Federation of America in the 1940s. During the 70s federal Food and Drug Administration took over the sale and distribution of birth control pills, and Planned Parenthood started receiving federal funding for its domestic and international family planning programs.

Now in 2011, Pence Amendment has effectively sent a message that all of this work is insignificant. It has publicly dismissed and devalued the efforts and concerns of millions of health-care providers, public health officials, doctors, politicians and citizens who regard the health of women, children and men as a collective social responsibility.

It is not just wealthy Americans with good health-care that are raised in families. Poor Americans are also born and raised in families. They too have family values. It is not just wealthy Americans who procreate. Poor Americans procreate too. It is not just wealthy Americans who have the right to decide when to have children and how many children to have. Poor Americans have the right to decide when to have children and how many children to have as well. Ours is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. All people, not just rich people. Taking away affordable family planning services from the economically disadvantaged will not boost our nation’s family values.



  1. I’m from Indiana and embarrassed about Mike Pence has done.

    • Well, the one good thing about man-made disasters is that, in most cases, they can be reversed. Not always, but in most cases. Maybe there will be enough outrage over this amendment that it will be reversed someday. Thanks for your comment. GD.

  2. […] post by gdevi var addthis_language = 'en'; Filed under Uncategorized ← We’re in Beijing! […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: