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Republicans Are Committed to “Defunding” Planned Parenthood

House Speaker Paul Ryan and VP-elect Mike Pence met yesterday to set the tone for what we can expect from the next four years. That tone? Terror.

The two let us know that the GOP would be keeping their promise to repeal Obamacare (or the Affordable Care Act), despite not having anything set up to replace it. Actually, during a press conference Wednesday, they swear they do have a plan in place, or at least a bunch of ideas, but refused to say what they are. And why would they? Trump set “yuge” precedent for being able to just say you’re the best at something, that you’ll do it better than any actual experts, and have people believe you.

As if the proposal to leave millions of Americans with preexisting conditions with no health insurance isn’t terrifying enough, the bill will also include the federal defunding of Planned Parenthood.

The role of Planned Parenthood in women’s lives seems to be one of the most misunderstood games of political telephone in the country. First of all, “defunding Planned Parenthood” isn’t even a thing. There’s no line item in a budget for that. The vast majority of their funding comes through Medicaid reimbursements, so, presumably, it’s Medicaid, not Planned Parenthood, that would be overhauled.

The pro-life rallying cry of not wanting to pay taxes for women’s abortions continues to persist despite the fact that no federal funding goes to abortion services. None. 0%. Add to that the fact that abortion services (a Constitutional right, let’s not forget) only make up 3% of what Planned Parenthood does anyway, and those opposed to Planned Parenthood based solely on their stance on abortion are willfully choosing to ignore the other 97% of the group’s (mostly preventative) services.

Yet the lies that the purpose of this group is to make money off of providing abortions and selling the fetuses simply will. Not. Die.

Oh, and it should be important to note that in some pre-election polls, 48% of Trump voters supported continued funding of Planned Parenthood (compared with 47% against).

Republican voters support Planned Parenthood. The group doesn’t even receive money in the way we’ve been told. Federal funding doesn’t even go to the service that remains the most divisive. Yet they, and the women who seek medical services there, continue to be vilified. When did we become so careless with our “facts” that the GOP can still tell us that this is what the American people want, and that it’s what’s best for the country?

By different estimates, one in four to one in two (i.e. HALF) of Americans live with a chronic illness or preexisting condition that, without the ACA, could allow them to be denied health insurance. Planned Parenthood provides free or affordable (and again, mostly preventative services) for upwards of 2.5 million patients a year.

And yet, when we wonder what will happen to all of those people wanting basic access to healthcare, Paul Ryan and Mike Pence are basically telling us “don’t worry about it.” That’s an awfully casual way to treat the health of your citizens. Those in power are playing fast and loose with our health, and potentially, our lives.

If this scares you, you can contact Paul Ryan here, and find your elected officials here to let them know. And it should scare you, or at least be of concern, either because you get medical services at Planned Parenthood, or you’re in the half of Americans with a pre-existing condition that would deny you coverage; or, even if you’re not—and this is where we so often come up short—maybe you see that to ignore the problems of the half of the country, branding them as we so often do as “identity politics,” is just to indulge your own privilege at the expense of so many others.

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Vivian Kane (she/her) is the Senior News Editor at The Mary Sue, where she's been writing about politics and entertainment (and all the ways in which the two overlap) since the dark days of late 2016. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where she gets to put her MFA to use covering the local theatre scene. She is the co-owner of The Pitch, Kansas City’s alt news and culture magazine, alongside her husband, Brock Wilbur, with whom she also shares many cats.