The Republican-led House of Representatives recently voted to deny federal funding for Planned Parenthood. This decision is many things to many people. Some see it as a moral imperative to stop what they see as a violation of life. Some see it as an assault on women’s health and rights. There’s likely a good deal of both behind this decision.
Beyond ideology, however, is plain and simple politics. What is likely the true driving force behind this push by Republicans is political motivation. On the right, an extreme-ified voter base has been pressuring Republicans to be more conservative in congress since widespread Democratic victories in 2006 and 2008. This GOP-purification has led to otherwise moderate Republicans (those who survived 2010 primary challenges) behaving in extremely conservative ways to appease the rabid tea-party crowd.
On top of this, controlling the House of Representatives gives Republicans the opportunity to control part of the congressional agenda, and thus move on the offensive. With control of the House, Senate and Presidency for two years, the Democrats have had the opportunity to push forward legislation that not only appeals to their base, but also makes significant progress towards modernizing American government – a process which took place years ago in most of Europe.
Making political moves like denying funding to Planned Parenthood focuses the attention of liberals on outrageous behavior like this and away from accomplishing their own goals. It’s a distraction, plain and simple.
Republicans in the House of Representatives are well aware that the Democratic Senate and White House will not allow Planned Parenthood funding to be cut, nor will they ever sign off on repealing the Affordable Care Act or de-clawing the Environmental Protection Agency. However, proposing to do so enrages liberals and draws their attention from other issues of importance.
Political maneuvering is an ordinary thing between the two rival parties, but now it has begun to affect the rights of the people. To propose the denial of health services, screenings, birth-control options, and the myriad of other services provided by Planned Parenthood is an assault on not only women’s reproductive rights, but the rights of everyone who uses, has used, or may someday use the services of Planned Parenthood.
Proponents of the measure cite their base’s desire to stop federal funding for abortion as the primary cause behind this bill. It shows a particular lack of understanding on their part when one remembers that the Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, established a ban on federal money to support abortion. It is already illegal to fund abortion with federal dollars, thus de-funding Planned Parenthood is an attack on health services, not on abortion.
This partisan attempt at enraging and distracting Democrats while appeasing conservative Republicans is just your ordinary political move made particularly disgusting when the human impact is taken into account. Let’s rest assured that Democrats in the Senate won’t pass this legislation and hope that congress in the future won’t keep pushing it.