On the Brink…

Guest post by Stacey Anderson, Public Affairs Director of Planned Parenthood of Montana

Will Montana be brought to the brink of a shutdown like the federal government over women’s healthcare? That is the $6.9 million dollar question for us to consider.

Montana’s Republican leaders have waged an all-out assault on women’s access to healthcare this legislative session. With bills ranging from mandatory ultrasounds to eliminating non-gender insurance to complete elimination of the state’s family planning clinic funding streams, we are at a crossroads. In the next several weeks a number of things could happen with the state’s budget including an outright governor’s veto, a governor’s amendatory veto, a last-minute deal, or a special session. Given the power plays over women’s healthcare this year, I strongly suspect that family planning will be one of the final sticking points to passing a our state’s budget.

On Friday, many of us who are political or policy wonks watched with fascination as the federal government averted a shutdown with 90 minutes to spare. That sticking point? A controversial policy rider that would eliminate the federal family planning program (Title X) in a cynical effort to de-fund Planned Parenthoods across the country.

What conservatives fail to consider or even recognize is that federal family planning funding is prohibited from being used for abortion-related services – a little thing called the Hyde amendment has been in place since 1976. What conservatives also fail to consider or recognize is that 3,000,000 men and women CHOOSE Planned Parenthood as their primary care provider every year, including over 17,000 in Montana. PP is a trusted source of healthcare, education, and counseling for millions of Americans and denying patients’ access will not end the debate, but rather end access to healthcare for thousands upon thousands of low-income individuals.

The Republicans in Montana have picked this battle as well – a fight about women’s healthcare that is cloaked in the politicized battle over abortion rights and care. Montana’s family planning clinic network, including Planned Parenthood, serves 27,731 patients a year, 85% of whom qualify for reduced or no-cost care. Family planning clinics across Montana provide routine reproductive healthcare for women and men, breast and cervical cancer screenings, contraceptive services, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infects, and HIV testing and education.  Family planning is not only proven to be incredibly cost effective — saving $4 for every $1 spent — but it is proven effective in the reduction of unplanned pregnancy and abortion.

In the next few days, the U.S. House and Senate will vote on whether to “allow” federal funding of ANY SORT to be distributed to Planned Parenthood – including family planning (Title X), Medicaid, CHIP, STI/STD testing and treatment funds, sexual assault nurse examiner training funds, etc (U.S. Capitol Switchboard: 202-224-3121).  In addition, in an eerie shadow of the federal budget showdown, Montana Republicans will also be asked a very similar question – is their opposition to Planned Parenthood so great that they would deny Montana women access to preventive healthcare? Will they throw all women under the bus in order to score the political points they need with their base? Finally, will Montana’s Republicans be so irresponsible in this vote that they would risk increasing Montana’s abortion rate and costing millions more in taxpayer expenditures? (Montana Capitol Switchboard:  406-444-4800).

Let’s hope not. Let’s hope, for the sake of believing in our fellow man — and let’s be honest, most of our opponents are men — that common sense and fiscal responsibility will prevail. Even in this polarized world of politics, I cannot fathom that women in 2011 would be used as political pawns to bring a government to the brink, be it the U.S. or Montana. The investment in family planning speaks volumes of how we think of our daughters, our sisters, and our neighbors and this is not a fight we can afford to lose.


  1. Ryan Emmett Morton

    Thank you for this post!

  2. I’m not buying it Stacey.

    I saw the undercover vidoeo in February, on ABC, where the sex trafficers went into Planned Parenthood offices, and received information on how to get around the law as far as getting services and abortions for underage prostitutes.

    They were very helpful to them.

    They certainly don’t need any of my tax money.

    Please come back and tell me that I’m lying, or misinformed so I can post up some transcripts here.

    • Ryan Emmett Morton

      So Eric – PP should deny services to young girls because some jerk sex traffickers are breaking the law? Sounds to me that those young girls would be in the most need of PP services as they are so very vulnerable.

    • JC

      Those sex traffickers should be arrested.

      • Ryan Emmett Morton

        I agree. But you have to consider the problem that PP would face in the situation: if they call the cops, the girls are at risk; if they refuse care and advice, the girls are at risk. It’s a lose-lose situation for PP.

  3. Ingemar Johansson

    The Republicans are thinking ’bout the daughters and sisters Stacey.

    Especially the ones getting sucked down the sink.

  4. ALL REpuglicans are rapacious Narcissistic Authoritarians… some are incredibly more Dysfunctional, pernicious and mendacious than others but they are all Narcissistic Authoritarians.
    Expectations that they would do otherwise than pull the rug out from under society on every level to pay for the illegal wars and domestic mayhem is dysfunctional thinking.

  5. Chuck

    Thank you from the bottom of my heart Stacey. PP has helped my family.

  6. In many rural areas PP is the ONLY access to women’s health care and family planning – including pregnancy care – that is available.

    No federal money has supported abortion since something like the late 70’s or early 80’s. To say that this is happening is untrue.

    As for Eric’s comment, every EVERY entity/business/whatever has it’s bad players..I don’t care if you are talking priesthood or NFL or school teachers or plumbers. So you want to take away the service?! How does that make any sense?

    Sure wish we could do that with military funding. Have a military contractor misbehave? A soldier and his buddies commit a few murders? All actually have happened…should we just take away their funding?

  7. Find private funding – or let the Dems (the party of the rich) or Hollywood give them money.

    • Lora

      Dems aren’t the party of the rich Eric.. It’s the republicans who keep cutting taxes on the wealthy and cut services to the middle class. Makes alot of fiscal sense to cut PP and Family Planning. Last year 40% of all Montana births were paid by Medicaid.. So what do the republicans want next year and the year after to pay for 50 -60 % of all the births. Really good stewards of our money. Hey, I want my tax dollars to go to PP and Family Planning. If you are aware of history, abortions and unplanned pregnancies dropped during the Clinton adm. because of program like PP and Family Planning. And they went up during the Bush years becasue he cut funding to these programs. Abstinence was the message of his day, and not to many paid attention to it.

    • The DO “find private funding”.

      Federal money is not their primary funding source.

      Did you know that?

      Why am I asking. Clearly you didn’t.

  8. two male asshats blogging in support of denying health care to poor women.

    there is officially no shame in the republican party anymore.

  9. Don’t church them up too much problembear – PP’s big business is abortion.

    And it’s been shown that they don’t even follow the current laws. re: ABC/undercover video.

    I’m not a rabid pro-lifer, I simply don’t want public dollars subsidizing that kind of business.

    • petetalbot

      Bullshit, Eric, PP’s “big business” is cancer screening, women’s reproductive health care and family planning. If ignorance is bliss then you must be one really happy fellow.

  10. mr benson

    Is there any chance that PP losing government money is a good thing? At least there will be no strings tied to the organization any more and it will be free to pursue a pro individual freedom agenda.

    In any non profit money is collected that is restricted to specific programs and money is collected that is used for any purpose. I could see a scenario where federal money provides for one part of the mission, freeing up money to be used for abortions.

    And, the unrestricted money clearly is used for political purpose. It could be used for the program, not politics. That’s a choice of the organization.

    The same argument, btw, I would use against the “faith based initiatives” that “help poor people”. I don’t want my money establishing religion. Other people don’t want their money facilitating abortions.

    While I do have an ideological dog in either fight, for me, it’s the act taking money at gunpoint to provide to people with political influence that I have a problem with.

    • Ryan Emmett Morton

      Federal money does not pay for abortions at PP.

      • Of course it does.

        Let’s say a PP clinic in Missoula has an annual budget of $1,000,000.

        Let’s say that $200,000 of their income comes from federal funding.

        Once the money hits the bank, the government strings are no longer attached.

        So if they spend $450,000 on abortions, and $550,000 on everything else, who’s to tell which dollar was spent where ?

        Google up the undercover videos. Actually see them in action and you’ll understand that this organization does not deserve federal assistance.

        • decent people with intelligence and some shred of humanity will understand nothing of the kind eric.

          your measuring stick for what deserves federal funding is ok with corporate welfare and funding private contractors who rip our soldiers off is what needs adjusting here eric.

          planned parenthood helps people for pennies on the dollar compared to what it would cost to ignore them. it actually saves money.

          you just don’t like any poor women being able to make choices for themselves that allow them to access safe, non judgemental and affordable preventive healthcare, eric.

          why is that?

  11. What seems to be missing from commentary, is that only a miniscule statistic of patients actually seek pregnancy termination services at family planning (Planned Parenthood) clinics.

    The majority of patients –both MEN as well as women — seek preventative healthcare services, education, counsel, and advice/referrals. Family Planning clinics provide cancer screenings, infection screenings and treatment, preconceptual (and pregnancy) counsel, wellness exams, etc. We are often –especially in areas without access to community health centers — a patient’s primary care provider.

    We prevent things other than pregnancy, such as stroke, heart attacks, cancers, even deaths through our screening and referral programs.

    We empower men and women all over the country with knowledge and education, which enables patients to make better and more informed decisions regarding their own health.

    Cutting down funding, which would also force a multitude of (smaller) family planning clinics to close would then force the majority of clientele to return to seeking basic care in emergency rooms as they did before (if community health centers aren’t available), and how do you think hospitals would then recoup those losses? Through you – Joe Private Payer, Mr. Joe Insured — by rising its costs even more, charging $25 for an in-house Tylenol for a circumcised boy, $15 for a box of tissues, etc.

    Once again, the Big Picture is being ignored for sensationalized drama.

  12. Pogue Mahone

    People should NOT be having sex EXCEPT for procreation! Period! And that’s not me talking, but the religeeious wackjobs in our Lege. Yes, it’s all about s-e-x! If one takes a closer look at these morons, you will see that it’s all about their “values”. Sex is bad. Sex is dirty. And sex is ONLY for filling your quiver with TONS of little subservient, inbred little Wendies who will grow up to be good consumers and wage slave worker bees for Jesus! For you see, you MUST have enough worker bees to provide tax breaks for the chosen, the billionaires! All part of “god’s” plan.

    I’m not kidding. These folks don’t LIKE ever birth control, which they feel is messing with “god’s” plans! These are the same loonies like santorum who want NO pain medication to assuage the suffering of the dying because that too messes with “god’s” plan. Suffering is GOOD for people.

    Having dealt with these wacks for many years, I can tell you that they are some extremely mentally sick mofos! But it’s good to understand where they’re coming from. It’s all about control. Women submit to their menfolk. Men submit to their betters, ie. the Kochs and other billionaires.

  1. 1 Montana Blog Roundup 17 April 2011 | Intelligent Discontent

    […] a guest post, Stacey Anderson of Planned Parenthood dissected the misinformation about family planning services happening at the state and federal […]

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