Planned Parenthood: Will the Loss of John Boehner Help or Harm?

This post is part of a regular blog series from the YDWA Women’s Caucus. Today’s post was written by Amy Veneziano.

John Boehner is … an ally?

Yeah, we’re pretty surprised to be saying that, too.

Boehner, the Speaker of the House and the cat-wrangler-in-chief of the Republican party, issued his resignation last week, effective at the end of October. Boehner has faced significant criticism from the right wing of his already far-right party, who told him they would not vote for a government spending bill that included money for Planned Parenthood. Their criticism, and his refusal to shut down the government over Planned Parenthood, likely spurred his untimely political end.

Planned Parenthood again?

Yep.

Remember last summer, when those terrible, heavily edited videos by extremist organization the Center for Medical Progress purported to show Planned Parenthood executives negotiating over prices on fetal body parts hit the air? The fallout just keeps coming. Now conservatives want to defund the organization, and are willing to stop the federal government from functioning in order to do so. A bill must be passed by Oct. 1, or the government will run out of money.

Planned Parenthood received about $500 million from the government this year; it’s a lot, but a drop in the bucket in the government’s overall budget of $3.9 trillion. And most of Planned Parenthood’s federal allocation goes to programs like Medicaid, which provides free health care to low-income patients (http://www.npr.org/sections/itsallpolitics/2015/08/05/429641062/fact-check-how-does-planned-parenthood-spend-that-government-money).

It’s not like this is a new fight; it’s not like the videos, chopped together and altered as they were, suddenly changed the GOP’s minds, or even offered anything they hadn’t already been trying to pin on the women’s health organization.

No, the Republicans in leadership in this country have been railing against women’s health for a long time. From Jeb Bush’s comment last summer — “I’m not sure we need a half a billion dollars for women’s health issues” — to Carly Fiorina’s extravagant lies at the most recent Republican debate/circus, it’s been clear for while that Republicans just wanted an opportunity.

The CMP gave them that moment with its “stings” and videos.

Nevermind that the videos are grotesque, heavily edited, and perhaps illegal — two courts have ruled that the CMP must turn over its documents and submit to questioning about how they obtained the videos (http://www.politico.com/story/2015/09/david-daleiden-center-for-medical-progress-planned-parenthood-video-213992). That is a matter for the courts to deal with, and as with many things in the courts, by the time there is a decision the original controversy will have been long forgotten.

Today’s issue is different. Today, the government is threatening shutdown over Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood provides a myriad of low-cost and even free services to women across the country, across the socioeconomic spectrum, and with tremendously diverse needs. From contraception, like IUDs and birth control, to STD testing, the HPV vaccine, and more general women’s health needs, Planned Parenthood is there.

And yes, they do abortion too.

Not every clinic offers the service, but that doesn’t stop arsonists like the ones who targeted a clinic in Pullman in September, destroying the relatively new building that mostly serves college-aged women in a college town. The Pullman clinic didn’t perform abortions, and neither do most of their clinics — in total, abortions are just three percent of Planned Parenthood’s activities. Oh, and none of the abortion costs come from the government: They are financed by the woman in question, by her insurance, or by Planned Parenthood’s donations.

So, the GOP is demanding the federal government be shut down over women’s health and contraception.

Sounds about right. After all, Jeb Bush said it himself. Why in the world would we need to spend half a billion dollars on women’s health?

After all, the best way to prevent abortion is to cut off women’s access to birth control … right?

We never thought we’d say this, but Boehner may have been the one keeping the party sane. We might even miss him.