Photo courtesy of Orwell Today
It seems to be a controversial trend that sparks up once or twice a year: the threat of defunding Planned Parenthood. After the election of President Donald J. Trump, the fear of Planned Parenthood closing its doors filled many Americans.
On April 13, Trump signed a piece of legislation that took aim at Planned Parenthood and other family planning groups, despite the fact that in the past, Trump has given recognition to the services Planned Parenthood provides. This bill nullifies a ruling put in place by the Obama administration that barred state and local governments from withholding federal funds for family planning services.
Trump has praised Planned Parenthood’s work in providing life-saving health services but cast disapproval to the group for providing what he believes to be abortion services, referring to Planned Parenthood as “an abortion factory.”
Federal law already prohibits government funding for abortion, except in cases of rape, incest or to save a woman’s life. Planned Parenthood gets its funding through the Title X family planning fund and Medicaid, which only funds abortion services in extreme cases.
“Any politician that is attempting to ‘defund’ Planned Parenthood is dangerous,” said Generation Action President Lauren Shuler. “We need our elected officials to protect our access to life-saving preventative health care.”
Generation Action is MTSU’s group of college students fighting for access to Planned Parenthood. Generation Action is “a network of young people from across the country (that) organize events on their campuses… (to) create lasting change in their communities,” according to Shuler.
At the front of the Planned Parenthood debate lies the issue of abortion, despite the fact that only three percent of those going to a clinic do so to gain access to an abortion. In fact, Planned Parenthood is one of the leaders in providing affordable health care for women, men and young people.
Despite this small number, the national debate on Planned Parenthood’s involvement with abortion still remains strong. Although not taking direct aim at Planned Parenthood, Gov. Bill Haslam signed a strict late-term abortion ban earlier this month, directly affecting Tennessee women’s access to abortion after the 20-week mark.
Haslam signed the Tennessee Infants Protection Act, a law that limits abortions past the point of fetal viability. The bill threatens to send doctors to jail for performing late-term abortions if they fail to prove in court that the abortion was necessary to save a woman’s life or prevent substantial or irreversible harm to a “major bodily function of a pregnant woman.”
“This isn’t taking away someone’s right to choose. It is giving the viable unborn child a chance at life,” said April Carroll, an MTSU senior and Republican. “This entire bill is in relation to the unborn who can survive outside of the womb. I think that Tennesseans all can agree that at this stage, it is important to protect an innocent child who can not defend him/herself.”
TIPA requires doctors to perform a test for fetal viability — despite the fact that there is no standard test for determining viability — prior to performing an abortion that takes place after 20 weeks of pregnancy, in addition to seeking a second physician’s opinion about the viability of the fetus. Physicians that perform abortions after the 20-week mark will have to go to court to prove the necessity of completing a late-term abortion.
“From what I’ve seen, the 20-week ban ball was just one more anti-abortion measure passed through the legislature to make getting an abortion harder in this state,” said Nathan Watkins, an MTSU sophomore and Democrat. However, despite his liberal leaning, Watkins says that he “tends to be more pro-life than pro-choice.”
“Tennessee is a very conservative state and abortion, in my opinion, is the biggest issue in Tennessee that gets people passionate about politics,” Watkins said.
In the past, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery has called this bill “constitutionally suspect.”
“At the point of viability, this child can survive outside of the womb. If we were to continue to allow abortions past this, where do we draw the line? I think that this bill protects the life of the unborn child,” Carroll said.
To contact News Editor Andrew Wigdor, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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