Sen. John Kyl (R-AZ) made a startling misstatement on the Senate floor Friday, amid a heated debate on funding women’s health services — a key sticking point for Republicans and Democrats struggling to pass a budget that would keep the federal government from shutting down.
“You don’t have to go to Planned Parenthood to get your blood pressure or your cholesterol checked,” he said. “If you want an abortion, you go to Planned Parenthood, and that’s well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.”
Shocking as that might sound, it’s patently false. In fact, the opposite is true: More than 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does has nothing to do with abortion.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) is one of the nation’s top non-profit organizations. In 2009, according to PPFA’s figures, 96 percent of its activities were dedicated to one of the following: cancer screenings; STD or STI testing; counseling and education; or pregnancy testing and prevention.
Thanks to all of this, one in five American women have a much better shot at preventing unwanted pregnancies or catching a life-threatening disease before it becomes critical.
In fact, the vast majority of PPFA’s reproductive health efforts are dedicated toward preventing unwanted pregnancies.
Figures show the PPFA is ten times more likely to help prevent an abortion than carry one out.
Additionally, PPFA volunteers reportedly distributed educational materials on reproductive health to over 1.9 million people in 2009. They were also a key bulwark in the fight against sexually transmitted diseases, carrying out nearly 4 million tests that year.
Despite this, misinformation as to what PPFA actually does remains rife among many Republicans.
Confronted by questions from Raw Story, one legislator in South Dakota — Republican state Sen. Al Novstrup, the key sponsor of that state’s recently passed abortion restrictions — appeared to be under the impression that PPFA was a profit-making venture with a “financial incentive” to carry out as many abortions as possible.
Sen. Kyl, it would seem, is about on that same page.
Most services provided by PPFA are significantly more expensive when purchased from the private sector.
Critics have suggested that the refusal to fund PPFA is actually a back-door scheme to funnel additional money into private health providers, which would be the last resort for most PPFA patients who lack health insurance. Republicans insist, however, that they are morally opposed to public funds going toward abortions. Public funding of abortions, however, has been repeatedly banned at the federal level. Public funds for abortion are only provided through Medicaid, and only in cases of rape or incest.
If the two parties cannot agree on a budget by midnight tonight, over 800,000 public workers will be temporarily displaced and many active duty combat troops will not receive their paychecks.
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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