Planned Parenthood loss of $60 million in federal funds is bad for all women

If I’m to believe those who know what they’re talking about, it’s not a matter of if the Supreme Court will take up a case that restricts or even bans certain kinds of abortions, it’s a matter of when.  And if we’re to believe most of those experts, the deciding vote will likely come down to Chief Justice John Roberts, who has broken with his fellow conservatives on a few important cases. But if Trump is reelected and Democrats don’t win back the Senate, it’s almost guaranteed the President will have the opportunity to fill one or more vacancy on the court. And if that happens, well, let’s just keep it real: Abortion will again be illegal in most parts of this country.

Republicans have been playing the long-game when it comes to chipping away at women’s reproductive rights. Sure, it’s a stance that is repugnant on many levels, but it’s also a movement that is highly disciplined when it comes to scoring small victories. These actions have resulted in bigger scores lately, such as the recent “heartbeat” bans in states such as Missouri and Louisiana. The former recently joined Kentucky, Mississippi, North Dakota, South Dakota and West Virginia as a state with only one clinic that performs abortions. Think about that for a second. A state with two major cities (Kansas City and St. Louis) only has one abortion clinic and even that one is hanging by a thread. 

Living in a major city in bright-blue California can sometimes feel like a bubble, so much so that when news of these anti-choice victories hit us, it feels almost foreign. Our anger is righteous and we’ll do what we can to show solidarity with the millions of affected women, but there’s always that underlying feeling of “I live in California. This will never affect me.”

I’ve heard it from my own friends on the patio of bars and at dinner parties. We grasp at straws as if there will be work-arounds and quick-fixes. We think we’re safe but one need only to read accounts of pre-Roe abortion access to understand just how many women will die or be forced to resort to drastic measures in order to terminate an unexpected or unwanted pregnancy. 

And then came the sadly underreported boom this week when Planned Parenthood announced that it was withdrawing from a federal family planning program (Title X), forgoing $60 million dollars a year in federal funds. This decision was made after the Trump administration imposed a gag rule that would prevent organizations such as Planned Parenthood from referring patients to abortion providers. After that rule was upheld in the 9th U.S. Court of Appeals, Planned Parenthood either had the choice of withdrawing from the program or being kicked off. 

Keep in mind that these funds weren’t being used to perform abortions, but rather for low-income women seeking things such as STI testing, family planning services and checkups for breast and cervical cancer. The pro-life movement celebrated yes another victory, oblivious to the fact that they just endangered the lives of thousands, if not millions of women. 

Make no mistake: This absolutely does affect California women. This is no longer a battle that is being waged in some far-off state. The Sacramento Bee warned this might happen back almost a year ago, just as the Brett Kavanaugh hearings were heating up. 

“Planned Parenthood made an extremely important, and exceptionally hard, decision today when it decided to withdraw from Title X and forego millions in accompanying federal funding,” California Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins said in a statement. “In doing so, Planned Parenthood is choosing to stand beside their patients and the right to access information about physicians who could perform abortions—that was the right decision.”

Yes, it was the right decision, but it is also yet another example of anti-choicers playing the long game while the rest of us think we’ll be just fine.