Yet another state bill designed to hurt women purports to protect us.
“I was a poor kid who came from poor kids, so I never really had health insurance,” says Sara Ann Kelly, a 26-year-old businesswoman living in Philadelphia. While in college, Kelly and “basically everyone [she] knew” from school traveled from campus to the Planned Parenthood in Center City, making a mini field trip to get pap smears, the annual check-up that many women rely on as primary medical care.
“The sliding scale saved my life,” says Kelly. “I couldn’t afford $150, even once a year. So to be able to pay $10 and get all the literature I needed regarding lumps in your breasts [and so on], they really make it a one-stop shop.”
“I’m gay,” she continues, “so I didn’t really need the reproductive side much.”
These days, Kelly goes to another doctor, but she remains grateful to Planned Parenthood for being there when she needed it. “Without [Planned Parenthood],” she says, “I really would have been up a creek without a paddle for getting any type of medical help.”
Kelly is just one of thousands of Pennsylvanians who have relied on Planned Parenthood and other low-cost health centers for affordable medical care.
In 2011, Planned Parenthood’s 42 health centers in Pennsylvania cared for more than 120,000 men and women. They provided about 200,000 STD tests and 40,000 cervical-cancer screenings, and detected more than 5,000 abnormal pap tests (if left untreated, the abnormal cells can lead to cancer). They also, of course, provide birth control and abortion services.
Even though the organization’s records show that 95 percent of services provided are preventive, if Harrisburg’s Republicans get their way, they’ll sacrifice all those general medical-care services just to make it harder for low-income women to access abortion—which, by the way, is a legal procedure.
To wit, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler County) recently introduced a bill that would sever all state funding to health centers in Pennsylvania that also provide abortion services.
Pennsylvania law already prohibits state funding for abortions.
So how would this bill protect women in any way? It doesn’t. This is just another counterfeit bill, one of a long string of them being pushed by politicians who pretend to protect the health of poor women in Pennsylvania while actually working to demolish their access to health care.
Spotting counterfeit bills can get confusing, but fear not: You don’t have to follow politics closely to learn how to detect a fake.
The first clue is in the bill’s title. In Pennsylvania, if a Republican-backed bill purports to positively impact women’s health, preserve women’s rights or protect religious liberty, it likely doesn’t intend to do any of those things. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised to hear about a Republican-backed resolution to rename the uterus the “our-terus.”
Metcalfe’s bill title? “Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priorities Act.” Bingo. Defunding pap smears, cervical cancer screenings and birth control in order to shut down abortion services is not prioritizing anything but a culture war.
The second way to spot a counterfeit bill is to consider the sponsor. Metcalfe is well-known throughout the state as a vehement social conservative with little prior interest in women’s health.
Next, ask yourself who actually wrote the bill; agenda-driven shills rarely bother to write their own. These days, special-interest groups write boilerplate, fill-in-the-state-name legislation, then pass them off to hacks who spin them to the locals. Metcalfe’s was written by the Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life political-action committee, and the Alliance Defense Fund, a Christian group.
The next step in spotting a counterfeit bill is to check out who is standing up there next to the legislator as he or she introduces it. Standing next to Metcalfe we see Diane Gramley, a spokesperson for the Pennsylvania chapter of the Mississippi-based American Family Association (AFA), a group with a mission to stand up for “traditional Judeo-Christian values.” It has a website that features a section on the “Homosexual Agenda.” The AFA has been labeled a hate group by nonprofit civil rights organization Southern Poverty Law Center.
Gramley didn’t talk about STD screenings or cervical exams, but she did wax philosophical about zygotes and fetuses.
“[What if] we killed the one who would have found the cure for cancer? For AIDS?” asked Gramley, apparently forgetting that AFA co-hort Bryan Fischer recently announced that God will cure AIDS when gays stop having sex.
Also standing there was the bill’s co-sponsor, state Rep. Kathy Rapp (R-Forest, McKean and Warren counties). Rapp was recently exposed as a shill for bigwig lobbying group Americans United for Life. Earlier this year, she sponsored their mandatory transvaginal ultrasound bill (dubbed “The Women’s Right-to-Know” Act), then couldn’t even answer questions about it accurately. Anti-women lobbyists, after all, prefer a female mule to smuggle the goods.