Not Cease from Exploration

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Defunding Planned Parenthood

A few thoughts about the abortion issue and Planned Parenthood* specifically.

I think that, based on years of my experiences, most people who support Planned Parenthood are not "pro-abortion"; rather I suspect that they just wish that somehow every pregnancy was planned and that the reasons driving women to consider having an abortion, including rape and incest, never occur.  Count me in on that list.  But these things do happen in the real world.  All of this noted I am disturbed by the notion that a government...any government mind you...can reach inside a woman's body and make a reproductive decision for her; how is this not government intrusion at its very worst?  How is that not the antithesis of a conservative philosophy of small government?  Now I'm equally if not more so disturbed by the idea that, for example, an abortion can occur simply out of a gender preference, but my personal objection shouldn't equate to governmental policy, especially a policy that can reach into someone else's body. 

I'll take this one step further.  It's my opinion that, while abortion is the stated and primary reason for many who want to de-fund Planned Parenthood, a strong secondary (and in fact, maybe primary) reason among politicians and others is in the area of contraception.  You see, some (mainly religious) groups also want to limit or even end access to the contraception services that Planned Parenthood provides.  Serial presidential candidate Rick Santorum has said that individual states should be able to ban contraception, advocating for the overturning of the Griswold v. Connecticut decision.  Ponder that one for a moment:  It's not simply enough to reach into a woman's body, the government also wants a role in the intimate life you share with your husband/wife/partner.  Why?  Well, it's because some have a personal, religious belief that the only purpose for intimacy is procreation. Again, we come back to the idea that another person's personal, religious convictions shouldn't automatically equate to a policy that impacts everyone else.  It comes down to the very notion that some want a very big and very intrusive government to have an awful lot of control over you.  

By the way, the argument that "I know my tax dollars don't directly fund abortions, but giving tax dollars to Planned Parenthood allows them to free up other money that can then go to funding abortions"  is a red herring.  Why?  Here's an analogy:  I believe that it is wrong for the government to collect cell phone data on innocent American citizens, but I also know that my tax dollars don't directly go to funding NSA operations that engage in this very activity.  Should I though, as a matter of principle, be able to withhold part of my federal income taxes because that money goes somewhere else that in turn allows other money to be used for NSA spying?  Of course not.  The "replacement money" argument is just a smokescreen (in my opinion) to punish Planned Parenthood for providing contraception services.  

Respecting Differences
One of the biggest problems with the whole abortion debate in this country is that we've allowed the fringe elements to consume most of the air time.  In fact, just where the fringe elements begin isn't really all that clear anymore.  Think about it:  A rally with people yelling while carrying plastic fetuses on poles makes for a better television story than rational folks having a civil conversation about the abortion issue.  That's life in a 24/7 media universe.  Anyway, I really do believe that reasonable people can respect each other while having differing and even nuanced views on the topic of abortion.  I also genuinely do understand the zeal that some approach this issue, and I do have problems with supporters on both extreme ends of the abortion spectrum.  However, this has to come down to a matter of personal choice for one simple reason:  No government should have the right to tell anyone what to do with what's inside of their body.  What's more, banning abortion will not end abortion, it will simply drive the practice underground as well as making it a choice that only the wealthy (and their political supporters) can afford, while the poor suffer through botched and life-threatening self-induced abortions.

In the final analysis, if your religious views tell you that abortion is morally wrong, that life truly begins at the very moment of conception, well then I respect your views and I know why you shouldn't have an abortion.  You can also tell others that abortion is morally wrong with all the personal conviction you can muster and with all the means at your disposal.  That's your right, and I hope that you acknowledge others have a similar right to express differing views.  Conversely, if you consider yourself pro-choice, then I hope you can respect the passion and heartfelt convictions of those who disagree with you.  However, and this is a big "however", we all have a right to live in a society where there is a difference between religious and secular laws, in spite of what you may hear coming from the Franklin Graham's of this world.  Sometimes these things intersect, but when they do it has to be a matter of almost universal consensus in order for society to function.  The contrary, where there is no line between religious and secular laws, is well on display for us in such garden spots of personal freedom as Iran and Saudi Arabia.


(*) By way of disclosure, I have financially supported Planned Parenthood for a number of years.  I do this for my three daughters because I don't want them living in a world where mainly older white men get to decide what happens to their bodies.



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Post Script:  Please save the commentary about "...but Margaret Sanger supported eugenics..." for someone else who is not quite so gullible.  I am well versed on Ms. Sanger's biography, as I am that of conservative icon Ayn Rand (see below).  If you are a conservative and dismiss Sanger for her early views on eugenics, should you not also dismiss conservative icon Rand for her views of any number of other topics, including abortion?

In fact, there are no "perfect" people, and all of us can disagree with the some of the views of people like Sanger and Rand without demonizing all of their work in the process.  It's that painting with broad brush strokes that I think is half the problem in this country, and one of the reasons why, I suspect, so few decent people actually want to run for public office.

For the record, here's what Ayn Rand has written about abortion:
An embryo has no rights. Rights do not pertain to a potential, only to an actual being. A child cannot acquire any rights until it is born. The living take precedence over the not-yet-living (or the unborn).
Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?
Source HERE.

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