Miranda Blue's blog

No, Community Health Centers Aren't Going To Replace Planned Parenthood

Conservative activists who are pushing for the state and federal defunding of Planned Parenthood’s health services to low-income women frequently claim that community health care clinics can easily pick up the slack if Planned Parenthood’s services are no longer available to millions of women.

A map of community clinics compiled by the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Susan B. Anthony List has been making the rounds in conservative social media and has been shared by groups who claim that these health centers’ ubiquity makes Planned Parenthood unnecessary.

A story in the New York Times today highlights just one example of why that is very wrong. Louisiana, the Times’ Jackie Calmes reports, is facing a crisis of sexually transmitted diseases and the state’s two Planned Parenthood clinics, neither of which performs abortions, have been at the forefront of fighting it, including conducting nearly 20,000 STI tests last year.

Dr. Stephanie Taylor, who runs a private health center in New Orleans, told Calmes, “You can’t just cut Planned Parenthood off one day and expect everyone across the city to absorb the patients.”

The author of a recent study of community health services told the Times that it is “absurd” to claim that Planned Parenthood’s services could be easily replaced:

“Somebody says, ‘Oh, we’ll just move $500 million over.’ First of all, most of that is Medicaid, so you can’t just move it over,” said Sara Rosenbaum, a professor at George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Services, which recently released results of a three-year study of community health services and family planning nationwide.

She called it “an absurd claim” that other health providers could replace Planned Parenthood, especially in the South and the Midwest. With the Affordable Care Act, Ms. Rosenbaum said, health centers “have been just overwhelmed with patients because of the expansion of insurance coverage.”

That experience was borne out in Texas after it cut off funds for Planned Parenthood, when rather than transferring to another provider, tens of thousands of women simply slipped through the cracks. Jill Filopovic summarized Texas’ experience:

We know what happens when you defund Planned Parenthood, because we've seen it in Texas. The result? More than half of women now experience at least one barrier to reproductive health care in that state. Some 30,000 Texas women vanished from the ranks of those receiving government-funded family planning services. Planned Parenthood clinics shuttered, and the largest drops in the number of Texas women receiving state family planning services occurred in the same places where those clinics closed down. Health care providers in the state made 63,581 fewer claims for birth control than they did when Planned Parenthood was a provider receiving state funds. Without access to contraception and with limited access to safe abortion, some of the state's poorest women are even turning to illegal and unsafe abortion methods when they get pregnant.

In other words, cutting funding from Planned Parenthood doesn't mean that women will simply go to other clinics. It means tens of thousands will lose their health care provider.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine acknowledged this problem before a Senate vote on Planned Parenthood funding in July (Collins ended up voting to advance a defunding bill, claiming that her vote was merely a procedural move):

“The problem is, in my state and many others, Planned Parenthood is the primary provider of women's health services in certain parts of my state, and as I understand the amendment, and again I'm still reviewing it, it immediately defunds Planned Parenthood,” Collins said. “So I don't know how you would ensure that all of the patients of Planned Parenthood could be absorbed by alternative care providers.”

As Peter has noted, Planned Parenthood critics also sometimes claim that so-called crisis pregnancy centers, which are meant to steer women away from abortion, could pick up some of Planned Parenthood’s work. What they usually don’t say is that such centers often refuse to supply contraception.

Huckabee: Denali Naming Shows Obama 'Doesn’t Think That There Are Any Limits'

Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is outraged by President Obama’s decision to restore the original name of the country’s highest peak, Denali, after years of campaigning by Alaskans including the state’s Republican senators.

Huckabee told Newsmax TV yesterday that he’d like to see Republicans in Congress block the move and joked that Obama might next want to change the name of the Washington Monument to the “Obama Monument.” The GOP presidential candidate continued his anti-Denali crusade in an interview with Iowa conservative radio host Jan Mickelson yesterday, saying that renaming the mountain is “outrageous” and shows that the president “doesn’t think that there are any limits” on his power.

Huckabee placed part of the blame on Republicans in Congress who, he said, have been indulging the president like a spoiled child. “It’s almost like the child,” he said, “that if you keep on letting him get cookies out of the cookie jar and nobody ever slaps his hand and says you can’t do it, he’s going to keep eating cookies. And this president is going to eat the last cookie in the jar all the way up to his last day in office.”

When Mickelson suggested that renaming national monuments could be a good “opportunity for fundraising” for a president, Huckabee joked, “If I’m president, I think we’ll name the Arkansas River the Huckabee River, why not?”

“This could be how he finances his presidential library,” he joked of Obama, “he sells naming rights to various national monuments all over the country and Mt. Rushmore becomes ‘Mt. Schwartz.’”

Huckabee: Planned Parenthood Like ISIS Because Both 'Take People's Heads Off'

Mike Huckabee said in an interview with Newsmax TV yesterday that Hillary Clinton owes him an “apology” because after criticizing him for claiming that the Iranian nuclear deal would march Israelis to the “door of the oven,” she made an oblique reference to “boxcars” in a recent speech about immigration.

Huckabee also lit into Clinton for saying that the Republican Party’s “extreme views on women” are what you might expect from “some of the terrorist groups. Planned Parenthood, Huckabee insisted, are the ones who are “most like terrorists.”

Saying that the media had applied a “total double standard” in its coverage of his "legitimate and appropriate" Holocaust remark, Hucakbee said, “It was also a double standard when she was talking about Planned Parenthood and Republicans are like terrorists."

"I’ll tell you what terrorists do," he said. "Terrorists take people’s heads off, that’s what they do. Planned Parenthood takes the heads off of unborn children and sells the body parts. So if you want to talk about what is most like a terrorists, is it a Republican trying to save a human life or is it Planned Parenthood murdering human life and selling the body parts as if they were selling parts of a car.”

Huckabee made a similar comparison between Planned Parenthood and ISIS at a campaign stop in Iowa last week.

Scott Walker's Black Lives Matter Adviser Calls Movement 'Black Slime'

At the first Republican presidential debate last month, the Fox News moderators asked Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker about the Black Lives Matter movement. As we noted at the time, Walker’s answer seemed bland but contained a coded message for regular Fox News viewers : that he had discussed the issue “many times” with Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, a frequent Fox News guest who specializes in denying racial disparities in the criminal justice system and in criticizing the Black Lives Matter movement.

Clarke took his criticism of Black Lives Matter to a new low this weekend when, as a guest on Fox News, he blamed the movement for the recent shooting of a sheriff’s deputy in Houston, saying, “I’m tired of hearing people call these people black activists, they’re not activists, this is black slime and it needs to be eradicated from the American society and the American culture.”

He urged viewers to push back “against this slime, this filth” and “these ugly people.”

Boykin: God Will Judge Gay-Affirming Pastors For Keeping People In 'Aberrant Lifestyle'

Jerry Boykin, the retired Army general who got in trouble during the Bush administration for framing the wars in the Middle East as a Holy War between Christianity and Islam, is now the executive vice president of the Family Research Council, where he applies his fire-and-brimstone approach to theology to issues ranging from foreign policy to LGBT rights.

In a speech to FRC’s “Watchmen on the Wall” pastors’ event in Dallas last week, Boykin delivered a fiery appeal to conservative pastors to continue leading the fight against LGBT rights after the Supreme Court’s marriage equality decision, in the form of “spiritual warfare” that he said would require bravery like those of his men on a failed mission to rescue American hostages in Iran in 1980.

Pastors who “compromise” on LGBT rights, he warned, will be judged by God “for what they’ve done to confuse the people in this country” and keep them in “an aberrant lifestyle.”

These gay-affirming pastors, he said, just want an “easy way out” because “they don’t want to fight, they’re not warriors, they don’t have the courage.”

Boykin, who has previously said that Jesus was a real “man’s man” who will return carrying an AR-15 assault rifle, told the Watchmen pastors that Christ will come back “riding a white horse, wearing a blood-stained white robe, leading a mighty army with a sword coming out of his mouth to destroy his enemies” and will be covered with “the blood of his enemies,” ready to "slay those who have stood against him and his kingdom."

Perkins: Obama Shook His 'Fist In The Face Of God' With White House Rainbow Light Display

Last week, the Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins convened an emergency meeting of his “Watchmen on the Wall” pastors’ group to address “the aftermath of the seismic Supreme Court ruling on marriage.” Perkins told the group gathered at a Dallas Baptist church that thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision, “we are at a moment of urgency unprecedented in the history of this country.”

Perkins told the story of King Uzziah, who according to the Book of Chronicles, ruled competently over Judah until he became proud and attempted to burn incense in the Temple, something only priests were allowed to do. Ultimately, the priests stopped Uzziah and God smote him with leprosy, he was ostracized and died.

Perkins, he said, was struck by the “parallel between Judah under King Uzziah and America under Barack Obama.”

“What struck me was that on the eve of this Supreme Court decision, on June the 26th, if you watched the news you saw that the president had bathed the White House in the colors of the so-called gay pride,” he said. “The parallel between the pride of Uzziah and the pride of our national leader shaking his fist in the face of God was stark and alarming.”

Like the priests in Chronicles, he said, American pastors today have the duty to stand up to such heresy, even if it means going to jail, which he said is possible.

“I know many have talked to me, saying, ‘As pastors are we going to face prison, are we going to face jail, Are we going to be forced to do same-sex marriages?’” he said. “That may come if we fail to act today, but the greater threat is to the men and women sitting in your pews every Sunday morning.”

He urged pastors to “encourage your people to stand firm in the faith” even when that means facing a “reverse religious test” in which they aren’t allowed to use their religious beliefs as a reason to discriminate against LGBT people in the public square.

Cruz And Perry Join Pastor Who Warns God Will Wreak Judgment On America For Gay Marriage

GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Rick Perry tried to burnish their Religious Right credentials this weekend by speaking at a “We Stand With God” rally in front of the South Carolina capitol, where Perry promised that he would root out corruption in Washington just like Jesus kicked the money changers out of the Temple and Cruz warned that the U.S. will soon be throwing pastors in jail like Iran.

The keynote address of the event was given by North Carolina Baptist pastor Ron Baity — previously known for warning that God would send a calamity worse than the Ebola virus in punishment for gay marriage — who told the crowd that marriage equality and legal abortion are inviting God’s judgment on America.

Pastors, he said, must stand up to criticism and preach that homosexuality is an “abomination” and “preach against Planned Parenthood.”

“The judgment of God will eventually fall on a nation that cheapens marriage,” he warned. “God had an urban renewal program for Sodom and Gomorrah!”

Baity warned that the U.S. will soon have to change its national bird from the eagle to the buzzard because “we have come to a time in America where we are ashamed of the old-time religion, we are ashamed of the Word of God, we are ashamed by the pastor that would stand in the pulpit, dare to raise his voice, point his index finger and dare to say, ‘Here’s the way, walk me in.’”

Ted Cruz: God Will Heal America If More Evangelicals Start Voting

Repeating the message he recently gave to the viciously anti-gay American Family Association, Sen. Ted Cruz told a conservative Christian rally in South Carolina this weekend that “we live in a country where life is under assault, where marriage is under assault, where faith is under assault” because evangelicals have failed to vote in great enough numbers. If they finally do, he said, God “will heal our land.”

Cruz urged pastors in the crowd to preach against Planned Parenthood and attacked the Supreme Court’s “fundamentally illegitimate, lawless decision that purports to tear down the marriage laws of every state.”

“Marriage was ordained by God Almighty and Caesar has no jurisdiction over the pulpit,” he declared, promising that “every justice I appoint to the United States Supreme Court will follow the law and follow the Constitution and not impose their radical views on the people of America.”

“If you ask ourselves why do we live in a country where life is under assault, where marriage is under assault, where faith is under assault,” he said, “the last election, 54 million evangelical Christians stayed home. Fifty-four million. Is it any wonder we have the country we have when believers are not honoring the commands of the Scripture? We’re told to be salt and light. You can’t be salt if you don’t come into contact with that which you are to preserve. You cannot be light if you’re hidden under a bushel.”

However, he said, “there is a spirit of revival and awakening sweeping this country today” and evangelicals “will stay home no longer.” When conservative evangelicals vote in great enough numbers, he said, God will “heal our land.”

Ted Cruz: Anti-Christian Persecution Will Soon Take Your Pastor, Your Mom, Me

Over the weekend, GOP presidential candidates Ted Cruz and Rick Perry = joined the GOP’s evangelical outreach coordinator Chad Connelly and North Carolina pastor Ron Baity — famous for warning that God would send a disease worse than Ebola in punishment for gay marriage — at a “We Stand With God ” rally in front of the South Carolina state capitol meant to remind elected leaders that there are still people who “stand for God’s definition of family.”

Cruz, unsurprisingly, focused much of his sermon-like speech on claiming that advances in LGBT rights are in fact “persecuting” conservative Christian business owners who refuse to serve LGBT customers. Discussing a few of the people he brought to his persecution-palooza in Iowa earlier this month, he warned the South Carolina crowd that they might be next and that eventually the U.S. will become like Iran, which has imprisoned American pastor Saeed Abedini.

“This is the world we’re living in,” he said. “If you think your faith is safe, next may be you. Next may be me. Next may be your pastor who preaches the Word from the pulpit. Next may be your sister or brother or mom who volunteers at the pregnancy crisis center. And you want to know how bad it can get, at that rally, we had Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of Saeed Abedini, an American citizen, a Christian pastor, sentenced to eight years in prison in Iran for the crime of preaching the Gospel.”

Cruz was introduced by South Carolina Religious Right activist and radio hsot Tony Beam, who claimed that Christianity would soon be criminalized as part of the effort to “get rid of Christians” and establish a dictatorship.

“You know, if you look back and you look through history, there’s a three-step process that’s always resulted in tyranny and dictators,” Beam said, “and that process is this: First comes the demonization of any people you want to get rid of. We saw that start in the 1970s as the church began to be demonized and God’s people were made fun of and it’s continued to today. The next step is marginalization. They take the people they want to get rid of and they push them to the side of the debate and they ignore them. You know, a lot of the national media may ignore us today, but we can’t be ignored because we stand for the sovereign God of the universe.

“And so, after marginalization comes criminalization. And you know we live in a country now that’s tried to criminalize God-fearing believers for trying to run a business to honor God.”

Cruz thanked Beam for the “tremendous” introduction:

The Quiet Battle To Undermine Abortion Rights In The States

Anti-choice activists have for decades been waging two simultaneous battles: to sway public opinion enough to recriminalize abortion across the country, and to work quietly behind the scenes to make legal abortion more difficult to access.

While the anti-choice movement still hasn’t convinced Americans to want to ban abortion outright, they have had more success with the second, quieter battle. Since 2010, state governments have enacted at least 282 new abortion restrictions since 2010. These restrictions often take the form of regulations billed as “protecting women’s health” but are, in reality, aimed at placing crushing burdens on abortion providers in the hopes of forcing them to close. The Supreme Court is currently deciding whether to consider the constitutionality of a set of such laws passed Texas, which, if it is allowed to stand, could close most of the abortion clinics in the state.

Today, People For the American Way released a report that reviews some of these quiet anti-choice tactics and the impacts that they have on women’s lives. The report updates our 2013 “ Chipping Away at Choice” report with new data and analysis. The tactics we examine are:

  • Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws , like Texas’s House Bill 2, which place unnecessary regulations on abortion providers with the aim of closing the clinics altogether.
  • Crisis pregnancy centers , which have been found to provide women with false or misleading information, and are often not staffed by medical professionals.
  • Mandatory waiting periods , which place an unnecessary burden on low-income women and those who live in one of the 90 percent of U.S. counties without an abortion clinic.
  • Genetic anomaly, race- or sex-selective abortion bans , cynical efforts to create new obstacles to women’s choice, which risk placing additional burdens on women of color.
  • Interference with medical providers , such as forcing doctors to read scripts written by politicians and requiring doctors to perform medically unnecessary procedures like early-term ultrasounds.
  • 20-week abortion bans , like the bill passed in the U.S. House and being considered by the Senate, which are aimed not only at diminishing abortion access but challenging the ban on pre-viability abortion prohibitions established by Roe v. Wade.
  • Defunding abortion providers , which result in cutting off access to cancer screenings, contraceptives, and basic health care, especially for low-income and rural women.

The full report, “Chipping Away at Choice: Growing Threats to Women’s Healthcare Access and Autonomy: 2015 Update,” is available here.

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