| Aug 14 2015
As published in: Des Moines Register
Over the last several weeks Iowans have watched disturbing videos exposing Planned Parenthood’s role in harvesting the organs of unborn babies. We have seen senior Planned Parenthood employees callously discussing “less crunchy” techniques to harvest baby body parts, and watched as they negotiated over pricing.
Planned Parenthood’s blatant disregard for human life is on full display. Democrats and Republicans alike have called the images in these videos disturbing. The footage raises a number of serious questions as to whether Planned Parenthood — the nation’s single largest provider of abortion services — is profiting off of the sale of unborn baby body parts or altering its abortion methods to procure intact organs. State and congressional investigations will work to answer those questions. Regardless, taxpayers should not be forced to foot the bill for roughly a half a billion dollars annually for an organization exhibiting such disrespect for human life. With that in mind, I introduced legislation to defund Planned Parenthood while protecting women’s health care services.
Desperate to distract from the videos, Planned Parenthood, Hillary Clinton and their friends in Washington launched the same tired old attacks, aimed to scare women. Despite their false claims, this legislation is the exact opposite of a “war on women.” The reality is, not a dime of federal money would be removed from funding women’s health services. I am a woman, I have been to war, and this is not war. Rather, this is an effort to safeguard women’s health and defend life, because protecting the most vulnerable is an important measure of any society.
This legislation would redirect federal funding from Planned Parenthood to other eligible providers of women’s health care, such as community health centers and hospitals. According to the most recent data, in Iowa, community health center sites vastly outnumber Planned Parenthood centers by 7 to 1. Notably, community health centers provide greater preventative and primary health care services — including voluntary family planning services, except abortion — than Planned Parenthood, regardless of a person’s ability to pay.
Although Planned Parenthood is the single largest provider of abortion, they are not the “preeminent provider” of women’s health care in this country, as some have claimed. For example, Planned Parenthood facilities do not even perform in-house mammograms.
In addition to ensuring that women’s health services are safeguarded, I have also stressed the importance of providing greater access to safe and effective birth control. It is with that in mind that I co-sponsored the Allowing Greater Access to Safe and Effective Contraception Act which would allow women to purchase contraceptives over the counter.
The legislation to defund Planned Parenthood failed to pass, but our efforts received a bipartisan majority of support in the U.S. Senate. Going forward, I will continue to seek answers to the bipartisan letter I wrote to the Department of Health and Human Services, calling on Secretary Sylvia Burwell to cooperate with investigations into the practices of Planned Parenthood and conduct an internal review.
These videos depict images and behaviors that are hard for anyone to defend. In response, today leaders across Iowa will gather at the state Capitol to honor and celebrate life. Together, we will continue to shine a light on the lack of compassion shown by Planned Parenthood for these women and their babies.
SEN. JONI ERNST of Red Oak represents Iowa in the U.S. Senate. Contact:www.ernst.senate.gov/content/contact-joni.