Assault on Planned Parenthood exposes larger issue for GOP

House and Senate republicans are calling for provisions in the new federal budget that would effectively defund Planned Parenthood.  The budget for the upcoming fiscal year is due by Sept. 30, and many GOP leaders have threatened to table negotiations if these provisions are not met, consequentially shutting down the federal government.
Calls to defund the non-profit family planning service have exploded in recent weeks.  This outburst is largely in response to a video that has gone viral, allegedly showing Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director of Medical Services, Dr. Deborah Nucatola, discussing how the organization illegally sells the body parts of aborted fetuses.  In the most recent GOP primary debate, a number of presidential hopefuls referenced the video when defending their pro-life stances on abortion.
However, amid the looming possibility of a government shutdown, an event that would freeze a number of government operations and departments that are not deemed “essential,” Republican lawmakers have ignored two facts.  First, the video in question has been discredited by many sources, by virtue of having been unfairly edited.  Second, not a dime of federal money is used for abortion procedures done by Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood provides an array of services to men and women including STD screening, relationship counseling, sexual health information, contraceptive services and body image support.  These services are available often for people who cannot otherwise afford this kind of care and many of these services rely upon government funding to operate.  Abortion procedures however, are funded strictly through outside contributions.
Why are Republicans so vehemently ignoring facts, threatening their constituents with yet another disastrous government shutdown and waging war on a non-profit public health agency?  In a word: Votes.
In order to pander to ultra conservative religious voters, Republicans will not miss an opportunity to fight for traditional family values.  If it costs the country a suspension of government services, so be it.  If it costs people health services that they need, so be it.  If their fight is based on misinformation and manipulation, so be it.  Just as long as it leads to votes.
The Republican plan in a nutshell is to push legislation to defund the program through congress to the president Obama’s desk, leaving the final decision to shut down the government on him.
However, in the current political climate, this type of action will only further diminish the Republican brand.
Just two years ago, Republicans effectivly shut down the government for seventeen days over arguments against the Affordable Care Act. The party faced waves of criticism as a result.
While this action against Planned Parenthood is intended by many GOP leaders to secure their voter base, it will serve more as a catalyst to drive moderate, undecided voters towards the Democratic party.
In most election cycles, the  party that can appeal to moderate voters usually comes out on top.  However, if the GOP continues to promote government inaction and refuses to negotiate, they will do more harm than good, and subsequently lose the voters that they need, not the conservative voters that they have.
-PJP

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