Letters to the Editor 4/20/17
UNDOING PLANNED PARENTHOOD
It seems quite clear that President Trump and much of Congress are heck-bent on getting rid of the funding for Planned Parenthood. The recent order signed by the president allows states to block Title X funding from going to Planned Parenthood or any abortion providers. It ignores the fact that even now no federal money can be used by PP for abortion services. Rather, it promotes the false idea that PP does abortions with federal money.
In this effort to punish PP by withholding funds, other vital health services, not just abortions, are made less available or totally unavailable to women who need and depend on PP. Nicholas Kristof (New York Times) notes that “70 percent of pregnancies to young, single American women are unplanned.” And that “the best way to reduce abortions is to help young women access LARC contraceptives.” PP has long been helping provide not only contraceptives but cancer screenings, prenatal care, pregnancy tests, etc. If the goal is to reduce abortions, why not promote more contraceptive availability and training? Cutting out the work of PP is defeating that goal. How is that “pro-life”?
The Washington Post, using Fact Checker, has looked at competing statistics relating to abortions provided by PP. Anti-abortion Susan B. Anthony List claims 94 percent of PP services are for abortions. PP, counting all services equally, says 3 percent are for abortions. By different measures, both are right. By any reasonable evaluation, both are wrong. Neither is helpful. Fact Checker wades through the maze of information and comes up with various figures for abortion services, generally between 7 and 14 percent. They note that both sides get “three Pinocchios.”
Why such animosity toward PP? While abortions are still legal, no one is forced to have one. Since federal money is prohibited for abortions, why such effort to destroy the other work done by PP? Is it because some are as opposed to contraception as they are abortion? A priest once told me as much, based on the questionable story of Onan, (Gen. 38:9). Abortion is a drastic, traumatic last resort in a life that is already troubled. But I want it to remain legal and available for the women in my life and for others. If outlawed, it may not be available for even the best of reasons, except through a difficult bureaucratic process, until it is too late. Some countries are already there.
Planned Parenthood may not be perfect, but it is part of the answer to the health care needs of “four million people (who) depend on the Title X family planning program.” Many women face barriers to their health care, “especially young people, people of color, those who live in rural areas, and people with low incomes.” They will be harmed if PP is eliminated or severely diminished. PP deserves our support.
Gerald R. Phillips
Betrayal, baronism and barbarism aside, President Trump’s recent statement to the Wall Street Journal following his discussion with President Xi of China holds an important lesson for supporters and detractors alike. The president stated, “After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy.”
This brief statement is actually quite significant. Listening seems a dwindling resource lately, especially after a particularly polarizing campaign in which only the loudest voices lacking any semblance of nuance were trumpeted. In the president’s statement, “it” is the relationship between China and North Korea, but that dynamic also serves as a mirror for other prejudices, assumptions and simplifications.
I find his policies and rhetoric dangerous. And while this statement from our “learner-in-chief” was roundly mocked, he deserves some credit for a brief moment of public humility, a willingness to evolve and the recognition that through the simple act of listening we develop a deeper appreciation for our neighbor’s concerns.