On Wednesday, House Speaker Paul Ryan held a press conference to defend Republicans’ health care plan, which was widely panned across the political spectrum after its rollout Monday night. Despite criticism that the plan would deprive millions of Americans of coverage, destabilize insurance markets and unfairly burden states, Ryan praised the legislation as “monumental, exciting conservative reform.”
“This is what we’ve been dreaming about doing,” the House Speaker told reporters. It’s a “conservative wish list,” the speaker said. Ryan then ticked off parts of the legislation that should thrill conservatives, before concluding that it gets “Washington out of the business of being a nanny state.”
Unsurprisingly, Ryan’s pledge to stop nannying the American people stopped short of women’s health care choices.
“It ends funding to Planned Parenthood and sends money to community centers,” Ryan boasted. What the bill actually does is stop federal Medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood—that means stripping the organization of millions in federal funds. As Vox pointed out, that would hit poor women the hardest but impact anyone that relies on Planned Parenthood’s services if clinics are forced to close as a result.
The idea that medical services offered by Planned Parenthood could be unloaded onto community centers is a popular conservative talking point. But in reality there are many problems with this plan, including the fact that community clinics don’t necessarily specialize in reproductive health services and are already burdened with more patients than they can handle.
Ryan’s pledge to defund Planned Parenthood comes on the same day as “A Day Without a Woman,” a nationwide protest highlighting the importance of women’s work. As reproductive justice advocates have long argued, women’s productivity is inextricably bound to having the freedom to decide when to start a family. Meanwhile, studies show that investing in women’s health has clear economic benefits.