Hey, folks, I've got a joke for you. Missouri's governor has cut funding for Planned Parenthood's free breast and cervical cancer screenings because he feels patients shouldn't be forced to "go to an abortion clinic to access life-saving tests." Here's the tragically funny punch line: None of the clinics in question actually offer abortion services! Badum-dum--
Yeah. [Claps hands together awkwardly.]
Thankfully, Time magazine smartly skewers Gov. Matt Blunt for this dishonest and transparent ploy to appease his conservative base. For 15 years, Planned Parenthood clinics in Southwest Missouri have offered these screenings for free. But, suddenly, Blunt had a change of heart and will redirect the funds to other less politically contentious clinics. Limiting women's access to free cancer screenings "ensures women may access important preventative care without contributing to abortion providers' goal of facilitating the destruction of innocent life," he says. But, none of the relevant clinics offer abortions. (As if that should matter in the first place! Abortion is legal and nobody's being forced to have one against their will.)
The unfortunate thing here, as Time's Nancy Gibbs argues, is that as Planned Parenthood rightly steps up to defend access to abortion, it makes itself "an easier political target." The truth is, the organization "made its name by helping people plan parenthood, promoting access to contraception and providing general reproductive health care." And, guess what, Americans overwhelmingly support birth control as a means of preventing abortions.
I could suggest that Blunt should have first considered the stats regarding Planned Parenthood's abortion services -- for instance, fewer than 30 percent of Planned Parenthood clinics offer abortions, and the organization estimates that it prevents roughly 300,000 abortions a year -- except that would make the mistake of assuming he actually cares. Blunt learned his lesson when after supporting "ethical stem cell research," he received a public flogging from his pro-life supporters; he is only trying to appease his base.
Here's a revised punch line to this tragicomedy: So, since Blunt is refusing cervical cancer screenings at these clinics, any chance he'll redirect a portion of the funds to support HPV vaccinations?