Sufficient Scruples

Bioethics, healthcare policy, and related issues.

September 23, 2010

Republican Anti-Choice Assholes Reduce General Healthcare Availability . . . Again

by @ 12:51 PM. Filed under Access to Healthcare, Autonomy, General, Global/Community Health, Healthcare Politics, Provider Roles, Reproductive Ethics, Sex, Women's Issues

Today the wingers are hugging themselves over the fact that the New Jersey state legislature failed to override Gov. Christie’s veto of family-planning funding for low-income women in that state. The funding reduction particularly targets services provided by Planned Parenthood – the nation’s largest single non-governmental provider of reproductive healthcare to the poor. Naturally, this was trumpeted as an attack on “Planned Parenthood’s abortion business” – a claim as false as it is stupid. Not only were the funds in question earmarked for services that have nothing to do with abortion, but they provide no indirect support of abortion, and the clinic that was affected does not provide abortions! What the Republicans did manage to do was shut down basic and necessary reproductive healthcare services – of virtually all kinds except abortion – for thousands of low-income patients, while crowing about their non-existent and deliberately disengenuous anti-choice “coup”.

First, Planned Parenthood does not have an “abortion business”. (They’re a non-profit – they aren’t a business at all.) Abortions (just 3% of PP’s annual clinical visits, nationwide) are provided by PP at rates generally below cost – they are subsidized by donations. (This – and their non-profit status – defeats the lie that PP is making a “profit” on abortion services.) Funding for other services is also heavily subsidized, and also in part paid for under government aid programs for healthcare for low-income people – typically Medicaid or SCHIP. That is, low-income patients who qualify for subsidized care can get that care at PP – while many for-profit providers simply refuse to take such patients at all – and PP is reimbursed, just like any clinic, under the appropriate plan. Those fees pay only for the services rendered, at the government-mandated rates, which are so low that, again, most mainstream providers simply refuse to accept them or the patients that are thereby covered. PP makes up the difference from its donation revenue – the government payments are so low they not only do not fund other PP activities, they don’t even fund the activities they nominally are supposed to pay for. (This defeats the lie that low-income healthcare reimbursement subsidizes abortion services.)

All this can easily be verified by looking at PP’s publicly-posted annual reports, which clearly show that a large portion of its clinical costs are subsidized by donations (24% of all revenue, in 2007) - no source of fee income for clinical services, whether abortion-related or not, government or private, is sufficient to actually pay for those services; all such fee income is used up in costs of the care itself, and then some.

But beyond this, the actual effect of the funding cut, as mentioned above, is to force closure of a clinic that did not provide abortions. The entire dishonest grandstanding really targeted ordinary healthcare and reproductive health services for low-income patients, largely women but some men. It had nothing – financially, practically, or even geographically – to do with Planned Parenthood’s abortion services, or the availability of abortion in New Jersey in general. But anti-choice ideology was a convenient stalking horse for the GOP’s anti-woman, anti-healthcare, anti-sex hatred, and it worked perfectly in this case.

What Planned Parenthood of Southern New Jersey actually does do – and which is no longer available from the clinic that is shutting down – includes, among other things:

Women’s Reproductive Healthcare:

  • All methods of contraception, prescriptive and non-prescriptive
  • Complete GYN physical exam
  • Treatment for many GYN problems
  • Laboratory screening
  • Cancer screening (Pap test, breast self exam)
  • Testing and treatment for Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs)
  • Emergency Contraception
  • Colposcopy & cryotherapy
  • Pregnancy testing & counseling
  • Pre-Natal Care
  • Gardasil  (HPV vaccine) 
  • HIV testing & counseling
  • Hepatitis B vaccine
  • Vasectomy

And:

Male Services (25 and under)

  • Condoms / Contraceptive Education
  • Sexually Transmitted Infection (STI) screening & treatment
  • HIV Testing & Counseling
  • Health Screening

And:

Pre-natal care plays an important role in providing a comprehensive package of medical and health support services for the pregnant woman. Pre-natal care promotes optimum health, prevents disease and provides a mechanism to manage potential problems and can have a long lasting positive effect upon the family. At PPSNJ, we provide the following pre-natal services: 

  • Medical exams
  • Laboratory services
  • WIC Program
  • Pregnancy support and education
  • Nutrition education
  • Adolescent parenting support groups
  • Delivery at Cooper University Hospital or other referral

And:

[C]omprehensive, age appropriate sexuality education and training for pre-adolescents, teens, families, schools, community groups, faith-based settings, other social service organizations and healthcare providers. 

  • Workshops and Professional Training
  • Speakers and classroom presentations
  • Curriculum Development
  • Teen Programs
  • Fathers Group

None of that is available now, at one of their primary locations, thanks to the “pro-life” assholes of the Republican party. Their ideology is made clear by the fact that the elimination of this funding not only has no affect on the funding of abortions (see above), but in fact directly impacts a clinic that does not even provide abortions. What it does eliminate is a local source of low-cost healthcare for the financially needy population, most of it focused on reproductive health and pre-natal services. That was their target, and that was their effect. The abortion nonsense – aside from being an outright lie – was a red herring.

The GOP hates women, hates the poor, and hates people who make their own decisions about sex and reproduction. Today they’ve eliminated healthcare for thousands of them, while having absolutely no impact on abortion, although banking on and claiming a political payoff for anti-choice ideology as a means to that end.

More of their standard, repulsive, dishonest and hateful same.

4 Responses to “Republican Anti-Choice Assholes Reduce General Healthcare Availability . . . Again

  1. Tweets that mention Sufficient Scruples » Blog Archive » Republican Anti-Choice Assholes Reduce General Healthcare Availability . . . Again -- Topsy.com Says:

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Amanda Marcotte, Suzi , Suzi , Lori Egan, annejumps and others. annejumps said: RT @AmandaMarcotte: http://bit.ly/c23YPs Supposed abortion opponents successfully move to raise abortion rate by depriving women of contraception. [...]

  2. ruth Says:

    You sound vexed. Too bad but the word is out… babies do die when sucked out of their mother’s womb.

  3. Beverly Nuckols Says:

    As one of your hated Republican pro-life subjects and a woman Family Physician, I suggest that the money being given to PP should go directly to those Family Physicians who accept and participate with Medicare and Medicaid. The best use of any tax money is to encourage women to have a family doctor, so that they and their families can have continuing comprehensive care, not services targeted to one body system.

    Planned Parenthood *is* a business, even if they are a “non-profit” under corporate laws.

  4. Kevin T. Keith Says:

    I’m sorry to hear there are doctors with such poor reading comprehension. All I can do is ask you to go back over the top part of the post, slowly.

    As for where low-income healthcare funding should be directed, do note that any physician is already perfectly capable of accepting low-income patients under Medicaid or SCHIP. Those programs do not require that the funding be used at any particular provider or clinic. The reason so much low-income care is provided at clinics specifically dedicated to that function is that most doctors simply refuse to treat patients enrolled in those plans. Another reason Planned Parenthood, in particular, is so popular is that they do provide a wide range of healthcare services and allow patients to make their own choices about values and goals they are upholding in seeking those services.

    It would be valuable if everyone had access to a primary-care physician under a true universal-access healthcare system. Women would still need gynecologists, though, which is the service PP provides (among others). But again, whether women have access to those services or not, under current funding mechanisms, depends on providers being willing to provide them. PP is willing. And so Gov. Christie shut them down – for precisely that reason.

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