By John L. MICEK
In the great din and clatter in our nationwide argument over abortion, it’s always struck me that the warring sides actually agree on a couple of very important things.
Namely, that fewer abortions are a better thing for society, that women should be able to make healthy choices about their own bodies and that they should have access to quality care regardless of how much money they make.
So, it’s funny (funny, sad, not ha-ha funny) that abortion opponents are applauding a move by the Trump administration that would likely do the exact opposite – and drive up the number of abortions.
In case you’re tuning in late, the Trump administration recently reinstated a Reagan-era rule restricting the use of federal family planning dollars by such organizations as Planned Parenthood that refer women for abortions, and provide them with other, less controversial forms of healthcare, including contraception and access to mammograms.
The administration’s latest action has been viewed as payback to evangelical Christians who have put up with Trump, who wouldn’t know a beatitude if he hit it with his golf cart, in exchange for conservative Supreme Court justices and a steady whittling away of abortion rights.
Because it’s low-income women, people of color and residents of rural areas who will be disproportionately affected by the White House’s latest move. And if you were thinking, “Hey, that sounds a lot like the Trump base,” you’d be right.
They’re the same voters who would’ve been impacted by the administration’s proposed cuts to Medicaid, food stamps and other safety net programs.
According to the Guttmacher Institute, of the 38 million women who needed contraceptive care in 2014, 20 million needed publicly funded services because they were either younger than age 20, or they had an income that was below 250 percent of the federal poverty level.
POOR SEEK SERVICES
And of those 20 million who needed publicly funded contraceptive care, more than three-quarters, or about 15.5 million, were poor or low-income adults. And nearly a quarter (23 percent) were younger than age 20.
Blessed be the poor? Maybe later. There are tax cuts for the rich that have to be taken care of first.
They’re also the specific constituency that receives services through Planned Parenthood. And anything that makes life tough for Planned Parenthood is pretty much a win for anti-abortion forces.
In Pennsylvania, a state Trump carried in 2016, more than two-dozen Planned Parenthood clinics would be affected by the administration’s decision to tighten access to $286 million in federal spending under Title X. That’s the federal program that provides access to reproductive health care regardless of income or the patient’s ability to pay.
The White House attacks on access to abortion come as Republican-controlled state legislatures, such as Pennsylvania’s, have mounted their own offensive against a woman’s right to choose.
And as is the case in Washington, state lawmakers who have been the most vocal in their opposition to abortion have been missing in action when it comes to backing measures that would provide support to new and expectant mothers.
But in a year in which women voters have been motivated in the thousands and women candidates are scoring victories at the polls, the Republican administration’s clear play to the base is a gamble.