Our best president just made sure that Planned Parenthood and reproductive rights for women are here to stay.
Can we just take a second to think about how much we’re going to miss President Obama? He has been one of our strongest and classiest presidents in recent history. His administration only has a few months left, but they’re making it count.
While the next four years are giving many of us bouts of anxiety and sleepless nights, Obama has helped give us a major step up.
Here are the details: The Department of Health and Human Services recently proposed a revision to Title X funding. Title X provides federal money for family planning services and preventative care for over 4 million low-income Americans.
Under the new amendments, states will not be able to withdraw funding for Planned Parenthood for any reason other than the “ability to deliver services to program beneficiaries in an effective manner”. This means that they will not be able to restrict funding because Planned Parenthood provides abortion services.
MANHATTAN, NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES – 2015/09/29: Participants hold pink Planned Parenthood banner and signs. Activists and directors of Planned Parenthood, NYC, gathered in Foley Square along NYC first lady Chirlane McCray and elected representatives to demonstrate support for the organization. (Photo by Andy Katz/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Now, a caveat. Title X does not provide money for abortion services. Planned Parenthood uses the $70 million it receives through Title X funding to subsidize birth control as well as cancer and STI screenings. Still, these are vital services, especially when you consider that Planned Parenthood serves a large number of low-income people and their families.
In response, Rep. Diane Black (R-Tenn.) released a critical statement this past September. In it, she said that “We must use the full force of Congress and the grassroots strength of the national pro-life movement to defeat this absurd rule and prevent the Obama Administration from acting unilaterally to carry out political favors and prop up a scandal-ridden abortion provider.”
In her statement, Black referred to the now thoroughly debunked Planned Parenthood videos, which purportedly showed providers selling fetal tissue. Those videos, which were heavily and misleadingly edited, are inadmissible in a court of law. They are hardly steady ground from which to knock down a vital healthcare provider such as Planned Parenthood.
It is also worth noting that Planned Parenthood, along with other family planning services, are now fighting the rise of Zika. This mosquito-borne disease causes severe birth defects and is likely to become endemic in the Southern United States.
MIAMI, FL – AUGUST 06: A plane sprays pesticide over the Wynwood neighborhood in the hope of controlling and reducing the number of mosquitos, some of which may be capable of spreading the Zika virus on August 6, 2016 in Miami, Florida. This is the second round of aerial spraying in the area as the county continues to try and prevent the Zika virus from spreading. The CDC has advised pregnant women to avoid the area. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
The CDC currently recommends that women avoid the devastating effects of Zika through birth control and family planning. Indeed, Planned Parenthood has already launched efforts to educate people about the dangers of Zika and what they can do to prevent its transmission.
The proposed amendments to Title X are now undergoing a 30-day public comment period. These amendments will very likely pass. The 11 states that have voted to block public funds from making their way to Planned Parenthood will have to back down.
This is a major step towards protecting women’s rights and reproductive rights in general. We don’t know what the new presidential administration will do to restrict access to basic healthcare. Now, though, they’re going to have a hell of a time doing it. Is there some way we can send a thank you card and giant fruit basket to Obama?
One more thing: Planned Parenthood is still sure to be facing many fights over the next four years. If you can, consider setting up a one-time or monthly donation to the organization. Help fund a healthcare provider that routinely helps women, POC, low-income individuals, and members of the LGBTQ community.
We’ve still got a lot of work ahead of us, but this is a big step. Keep this in mind as we move forward into the next four years.