Just as health care for women was becoming more affordable and more easily accessible through the Affordable Care Act, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced on Thursday that Republicans will defund Planned Parenthood as a part of an effort to ultimately repeal Obamacare. This attack against women's reproductive rights doesn't just take away access to abortions — something against which Vice President-elect Mike Pence has been seriously opposed and is the crux of the GOP's argument to defund the nonprofit health organization — it also takes away women's access to vital cancer screenings, affordable and effective birth control, comprehensive sexual education, and pretty much any other reproductive health service a woman might need to take care of herself and her well-being, as has been pointed out multiple times over. So why is the GOP so adamant? Because, ultimately, this measure seems to be just another way to keep women subservient and push back years of progress on equal rights and opportunities.
Coming into 2017, many women were already prepared for a scary year ahead, and the fact that Democrats really can't do much of anything now, in regards to the GOP's decision to cut off Planned Parenthood's federal funding, validates this fear. According to The Hill, the move will be included in a "reconciliation" bill that prevents Democrats from hitting the pause button on the decision, or, in other words, not being able to launch a filibuster to delay it. Using this legislative process means that Republicans won't need 60 votes to win, like other legislation would require.
Congressional Republicans have been at this for years, mostly because, among its many other services, Planned Parenthood provides women in need with abortions, — something that gives women (and their families and partners) options. That the leadership of the free world wants to take away this very personal decision and push these rights back about 50 years to a time when women felt tremendous societal pressure to stay home and refrain from having premarital sex is telling.
Planned Parenthood isn't surprised by this, according to CNN. Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, told CNN that "it's likely no accident that this attack was launched the day after Vice President-elect Mike Pence, a long-time opponent of Planned Parenthood, held a closed-door meeting with Speaker Ryan and the Republican leadership."
The GOP's anti-abortion stance tends to go hand-in-hand with traditional religious beliefs, beliefs which every single person is entitled to have. But, in 2017, why is one half of the government utilizing those traditional religious guidelines to dictate how the majority of women choose to live their lives? And why does a woman's access to preventive health care, birth control, pregnancy tests, breast cancer screening, and other female health care services have to suffer as well?
It's no secret that many Republicans (and people who align with other parties, too) have a problem with abortion. But, regardless of your personal stance, it's important to be aware of what exactly Planned Parenthood does for its patients —because most of it isn't abortion services, it's care for a woman's overall health, sexual and otherwise.
As Slate pointed out, out of the 10 million services Planned Parenthood provides a year on average, only about 3 percent of those are abortions and taxpayer money is only used to pay for them when the mother's life is in danger or if the pregnancy is a result of rape, as covered legally under the "Hyde Amendment." The other 97 percent of services boil down to treatments related to sexually transmitted diseases, birth control services, pregnancy tests, breast exams, and pap tests.
Could you imagine how the number of unwanted and unplanned pregnancies could skyrocket if virtually all affordable services to prevent them were taken away? Could you imagine how many women would have to quit their jobs or not go to college because they weren't prepared for this life-changing chapter?
This fight to dismantle women's rights because of a politician's beliefs will cause a devastating a ripple effect that will force women back to an era of subservience. Defunding Planned Parenthood won't just do take away money, but without access to these services women's lives and many of their sexual choices are essentially being controlled by the government. It will serve as a message to women to "stay home" instead controlling their lives, their futures, their bodies, and their reproductive health.
These effects might not be apparent right away, and some may even argue that women have an outlet in local health clinics instead, which don't provide abortion services. But community clinics simply aren't equipped to handle the need for these vital services like Planned Parenthood is; The workload and need for resources will quickly pile up, putting women in the exact same position as before. In time, if politicians keep injecting their personal traditional beliefs into women's health care, the future could begin to look very much like the past.
The incoming administration trying to micromanage these necessary health care rights will ultimately cause more problems for society than it will solve. As we saw during this vicious presidential election, the nation is still deeply divided on many important and controversial issues. And unfortunately in 2017, if Republicans have their way on most them, women's rights will suffer.