The Conservative Crusade: A Congressional Struggle to Abolish Abortion

The topic of abortion in this country is a supremely controversial one. Many on the right see it as murder and numerous on the left view it as an aspect of women’s bodily autonomy. Naturally, with the two sides taking such drastically opposing views, debate on this matter would come often and be supremely divisive. This issue has been in the national spotlight ever since the landmark case of Roe v. Wade in 1973 and has persisted like few others. With the recent election of Donald Trump and his firm pro-life running mate, the president’s party has made great use of his short time in office to introduce several pieces of anti-abortion legislation. These include House Joint Resolution 43 (H.J.Res.43) and specifically section 103 of the American Health Care Act of 2017 as part of what is colloquially known as Trumpcare or, as many on the left would call it, Zombie Trumpcare. The first of these two policies nullifies a Department of Health and Human Services regulation protecting family planning organizations from defunding based on anything not related to the entities’ ability to provide family planning services. The second piece of legislation listed would in part prevent all federal funds going to Planned Parenthood the following year. These actions have the left worried and the right all the more determined by their recent victories.

Video Explaining Obama’s HHS Regulation

Credit: United News International

The article from The New York Times titled “Trump Signs Law Taking Aim at Planned Parenthood Funding” details how the president repealed the regulation that Obama put into place just days before Mr. Trump’s inauguration. Author Julie Hirschfeld Davis then goes on to tell of our current president’s opinion of Planned Parenthood, which is soft compared to many on the right. He has even praised it for its provision of health services aside from abortion. Davis concludes with a claim that seems to come across as a warning to ignore other explanations for this legislative action and to see it as the first step taken by the G.O.P. in a precise strike to demolish Planned Parenthood that it is.

The similarly left leaning article written by Paige Winfield Cunningham for The Washington Post simply titled “Planned Parenthood defunded for one year under GOP health bill tells of how both Democrats and Planned Parenthood also claim that it is being unfairly targeted through massive cuts to its funding via Medicare. And an elimination of that funding would be an effective means to rid the country of its largest abortion provider.

On the right side of the spectrum, the article “Pence Solidifies Measure Allowing States To Defund Planned Parenthood from Red State treats the repealing of H.H.S. regulation (through Mike Pence’s tie-breaking vote in the senate) imposed by Obama 1 not as the just measure to protect the legal right to attain an abortion but as a removal of a needless red tape that forced states to provide funding to “baby killers”. It becomes apparent that the author from Red State, Martin Walsh, believes that a constitutional right, albeit a polarizing one, should be controlled by the states. This, quite apparently, is a very conservative perspective to advocate for letting due process such as this, which is guaranteed under the 14th amendment, be applied at the states’ discretion.

Another substantially right leaning media organization, Fox News, published an article titled “We don’t need to spend our tax dollars on Planned Parenthood”, which as you might have guessed, makes the argument that we don’t even need Planned Parenthood for even their non-abortive services. The author thinks that the women’s health organization delivers poor quality care and too much of a focus on providing abortions. This is despite the facts that abortions are but a slim component of what they do and that they receive no federal funding for abortions except in extenuating circumstances, including saving the life of the mother. It brings up the question though; if you could make a substantiated case that Planned Parenthood really does not provide adequate care, then why hasn’t the G.O.P. done so in order to satisfy the requirements needed to defund a federally funded health care provider before the introduction of H.J.Res.43? I suspect that this is because they can’t make that case and that Mrs. Hawkins from Fox is making claims that cannot be supported by the facts. That suggests that she wants to defund Planned Parenthood not for it’s quality of care but only because it offers abortions. This would quite clearly show that Hawkins and her article are to the right side of the political spectrum if she is so strongly against terminating pregnancies. 2.png

The two articles I examined from media sources deemed to be neutral on the political spectrum tended to merely state the facts as they saw them. The article “Trump signs measure targeting Planned Parenthood funding” from the BBC explains just that, without making noticeably partisan statements. This piece of writing details the political process called The Congressional Review Act that was undergone to nullify this regulation. The article shares what both Marjorie Dannenfelser, head of a prominent anti-abortion group, and Executive Vice president Dawn Laguens of Planned Parenthood had to say on the matter. According to Dannenfelser, removing the regulation that “disallows states from being in charge of its own family planning funds” is a very good thing and part of a states’ rights issue. Conversely, Laguens warns of the potential negative effects of this law that wouldIn “deny as many as four million people access to family planning services”. It also informs the reader that this is not the first time this year that Republicans have attempted to defund the organization.

3The Rebecca Hersher penned NPR article “Planned Parenthood Would Lose Millions In Payments Under GOP Health Plan” similarly expounds upon the section 103 in the American Health Care Act 2017 without much bias. The impartial positions of these two articles are evident by the types of information that they provide, which mostly are statistics and quotations without comments on either. Such as when Hersher plainly stated, “The costs associated with about 45 percent of all births in the U.S. are paid for by the Medicaid program” and “The Republican plan would reduce overall federal spending on reproductive care for women by $178 million in 2017”. Both the author of this article and the one from the BBC seem to be content with purely recounting what happened in each case and letting the readers come up with the implications of such actions themselves.

I’ve had my position on abortion for years, but going into this project I honestly knew very little about the laws that govern it. By doing research and writing this assignment, I have gained newfound appreciation for how complex legislative provisions can be and how tedious it is to read and understand them. I have also learned how truths are subject to the political lenses of those who state them. People on opposite sides of the political spectrum may describe the very same event differently even when trying to remain unbiased. My personal opinion I developed from the actions that congress has undergone is one similar to the left-leaning New York Times and Washington Post articles. I agree that these bills introduced are designed to unfairly single out Planned Parenthood based not on the quality of its care but purely because they provide surgical abortions in this country. 4.pngI think that if this organization loses the Medicaid and other federal reimbursements that encompass more than 40 percent of its budget, it will completely be eliminated in the following year. I also believe that the community health centers that would receive funding in its place are far too overburdened and inaccessible to deal with all of the women who will lose their health services provided by Planned Parenthood. Needless to say, this issue that is currently unfolding at the national level will continue to be as crucial a subject as it is a controversial one.

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