“I’ve said time and time again, I’m a pro-life candidate, I’ll be a pro-life president. The actions I’ll take immediately are to remove funding for Planned Parenthood. It will not be part of my budget.”-Losing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
That Planned Parenthood has been politicized in what many people now know as the Republicans’ “war on women” is blatantly obvious.
Losing Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, for example, vowed to defund the organization on the federal level in his campaign, and other Republicans in a concerted effort on the national level and here have tried to eliminate funding for the organization as well.
The issue, of course, is abortion for myopic and radical anti-abortion groups and their political supporters, but Planned Parenthood doesn’t and can’t legally use any of its federal money for the procedure. In Oklahoma, in fact, the organization only makes abortion referrals and doesn’t even offer the procedure.
The national and state political effort to defund the organization makes it difficult not to view a state Health Department’s recent decision to stop three Tulsa-area Planned Parenthood clinics from participating in distributing WIC benefits as starkly political, especially given Oklahoma’s overwhelmingly Republican and deeply conservative government and legislature.
Now, Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, as expected, has filed a federal lawsuit to challenge that Health Department decision, arguing the state agency has violated its constitutional rights because of its position on abortion. As a Planned Parenthood staff attorney said, according to a media report, “Politics should never interfere with a woman’s access to health services – or food for her children.”
The Women, Infants and Children program, known in its shortened form as WIC, provides nutritional supplements to “low-income pregnant, postpartum, and breastfeeding women, infants, and children up to age 5 who are at nutritional risk.” The idea is to get low-income children off to a healthy start in life while ensuring their mothers have the help they need. Pretty radical stuff, right?
The Health Department has argued that politics had nothing to do with its decision. It contends the Tulsa-area Planned Parenthood clinics had higher costs than other participating organizations and had problems with its billing. Planned Parenthood spokespersons said the costs were justified because of late and weekend hours serving WIC participants and that they were never given an opportunity to simply adjust their policies to meet state expectations.
As I wrote when the decision was first made:
A spokesperson for the Health Department said there were “performance factors” involved in the decision and that it was solely a “business decision,” but why the suddenness of the decision and why can’t Planned Parenthood simply address these performance and business issues?
It seems clear the state has taken a hostile and inflexible position against Planned Parenthood. Why not simply work with the organization and resolve any problems if they do exist?
State officials need to quickly settle this lawsuit and reinstate Planned Parenthood’s WIC contract. The election is now over. President Barack Obama won a clear victory and Democrats added to their majority in the Senate. WIC is a federal program, administered by state agencies. There is NOT a national election mandate or any type of mandate to stop federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
Let’s be clear: Mitt Romney said he would stop federal funding for Planned Parenthood, and he lost.