Lorie Smith Schaefer: Common wisdom is not that common
March 16, 2011
Founding Father Benjamin Franklin advised, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
We repeat it when we advocate washing hands, brushing teeth, getting mammograms. It’s common wisdom. At least I thought it was common wisdom. Then I received a letter from Rep. Dean Heller, R-Nev, explaining why he wanted to defund Title X and Planned Parenthood. While Heller says he supports access to family planning services, he voted to defund those very services.
Heller says he wants to cut spending. Good. But let’s do a little cost-benefit analysis before we swing that axe.
What does Planned Parenthood actually do? In addition to offering an array of family planning options, they carry out nearly two million lifesaving screenings for cervical and breast cancer for low-income women every year. They provide nearly four million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. For 60 percent of their patients, they are the primary source of health care. Preventative care accounts for 90 percent of the services they offer, while only 3 percent are abortion-related.
Heller also says, “… taxpayers strongly object to their tax dollars funding activities, such as abortion, which they find to be morally objectionable.” That’s why, Dean, since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has prevented the use of federal funds for abortions.
Nancy Gibbs in TIME Magazine (March 14) writes, “The GOP spending bill does not only cut Planned Parenthood; it kills Title X, the 1970 law that provides family planning for nearly 5 million women every year at more than 4,600 health centers.”
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Furthermore, the GOP budget plan cuts prenatal care for low-income women as well as $750 million for child and maternal nutrition. Community Health Clinics could pick up the slack except that the GOP plan cuts billions from those as well. Gibbs likens it to throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I agree.
Women who can’t afford birth control, certainly can’t afford to raise children. Without access to Title X-funded services, their reliance on Welfare, Medicaid, Food Stamps, Free Lunch Programs – those pesky entitlements – will increase, rather than decrease. According to former Planned Parenthood President Gloria Feldt, “Funding family planning saves the government over three dollars for every one dollar spent on health care and welfare programs. Eliminating family planning programs is the least conservative, most fiscally irresponsible thing they could do.”
The issue now goes before the Senate. Let’s hope our senators can use some common wisdom. Let’s hope they start getting people back to work as they promised. Let’s hope they stop wasting precious time arguing against programs that support healthy pregnancies, healthy babies and healthy families.
Yeah, I know. But a girl can hope.
• Lorie Schaefer is retired, mostly.