In Rep. Ron Paul’s (R-Texas) most recent campaign advertisment, he attacks the other three Republican candidates across-the-board, but one accusation particularly stands out: his suggestion that Rick Santorum funded Planned Parenthood.
The ad proclaims, “Three men, one vision — more big government, more mandates, less freedom.” The irony here, however, is that eliminating federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which pro-choice Paul and the other candidates would do if elected, would diminish women's reproductive freedom. Paul's ad undermines Planned Parenthood's value to Americans.
Paul's ad targets Gingrich as a serial hypocrite who lobbied for Freddie Mac prior to the housing crisis, Santorum as a counterfeit conservative who increased spending, and Romney as a flip-flopper who supported bailouts and provided the blueprint for “Obamacare,” among other things. Between the concerns of large government and spending expressed in the ad, I can’t help but wonder why Planned Parenthood, the health care organization helping low-income families and women, has become such a target of attack for conservatives?
Republican opposition to abortion is an obvious factor, but this service contributed to only 3% of Planned Parenthood's operations in 2008 (and it was funded by private donors). The HHS inspector general and state Medicaid programs regularly audit the organization’s programs. Though Republicans in Congress are trying to prove otherwise, there is no evidence that Planned Parenthood is ignoring the legal prohibition to use federal funds for terminating pregnancies. Thus, it is completely irrational and unfair to penalize and single out Planned Parenthood.
Live Action, a group with the mission “to expose abuses in the abortion industry and advocate for human rights for the pre-born,” released several videos in which paid actors walk into Planned Parenthood offices with hidden cameras as different characters including a pimp and prostitute engaged in human trafficking and looking for contraception, STD testing, and abortions. The heavily edited videos can be convincing enough to show disturbing situations — only two of which resulted in a legitimate reason for dismissal — but the full-length videos reveal that the meaning of the conversations in the tapes have been altered and have little connection to what actually occurred.
Representative Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) used these videos as evidence that Planned Parenthood is willing to use public funds to commit a federal crime in a column he wrote for the conservative blog, Big Government, less than a week before the vote to strip funds from the organization. The fact that conservatives are using these videos, taken out of context and started by a homeschooled 15-year-old girl in 2003, to justify eliminating federal funds to Planned Parenthood shows how far they are willing to go to eliminate nearly all access and opportunities for women to make choices and seek assistance regarding their reproductive health care.
Ron Paul aims to give states the freedom to decide if they want to permit abortion, and he opposes a national ban on terminating pregnancies. He claims that removing a fetus in the womb cannot be conceived as a violation of the Constitution. This makes him pro-choice, so why is Paul also against the nation’s leading reproductive health care advocate and provider? As a former OB/GYN, he should be aware of the repercussions for the sexual and reproductive health of women if Planned Parenthood facilities are removed across the country. This won’t “restore America now” and provide us with more freedom.
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