Issues tend to become intertwined with others which can make the task of defining the central issue feel like trying to find a ring dropped in a muddy lake. We know it’s there, but we keep groping, hoping to find that one precious piece of value that explains everything else.
However, from time to time, we are given the gift of clarity, a moment when the central issue bursts forth in a way that is so unmistakable that everything else swirling around fades out of sight. Such distillation of an issue is rare, but when it happens, we must take note.
Women’s health has been one of those issues. Time and time again, pro-life advocates have taken a stand against abortion, and their opponents have accused them of being against women and women’s health. Their arguments haven’t been against STD testing or their referrals for cancer screenings and mammograms, and yet they are charged with being anti-woman and against women’s health.”This argument serves to muddy the waters and obscured the issue.
For many, this argument has been a go to in the fight to protect Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers. But that argument suffered a fatal blow last Monday in an offer from President Trump and a counter from the CEO of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards.
Following up on campaign promises to defund Planned Parenthood, conservatives has moved closer and closer to making this a reality. In the midst of changing winds on Capitol Hill, Trump made an informal offer to Planned Parenthood that they could keep their $500,000,000 funding if they stopped performing abortions. Cecile Richards soon tweeted,
And in an instant, the issue crystallized before our eyes.
It’s almost inconceivable for a company to turn down half a billion dollars to stop doing something that they claim to be only 3% of their business. Faced with this very proposition, Cecile Richards refused an offer you can’t refuse. This refusal makes tow things abundantly clear.
First, it makes clear that the 3% number is completely misleading. Planned Parenthood counts services in a way that most would find counterintuitive. Most Americans would count everything from the time a woman walks in the door to have an abortion as one service. However, Planned Parenthood counts nearly every interaction with the woman as a separate service. So she receives a service if she receives pamphlets before the procedure, another for a consultation with the doctor, another for the abortion, and another if she receives an aspirin afterward.
This unbundling of services is like going to a restaurant and receiving a meticulously itemized bill that tallies every “service.” In this instance, you received one service when the hostess seated you and gave you a menu, another when the waiter took and brought your drink order, another when he took and brought your food order, another for every time he refilled your glass, etc., etc. Such misleading practices only ensure one thing, Planned Parenthood gets the maximum coverage for their services so that tax dollars can cover everything except the actual abortion.
But the other thing Planned Parenthood’s refusal of President Trump’s offer demonstrates is that their fight for women’s health is about one thing, abortion. When faced with the option of keeping their taxpayer funding in exchange for stopping abortions, Cecile Richards passed calling abortion ‘as vital to our mission as birth control or cancer screenings.” In reality, their refusal shows that abortion is more important than either of these. They are willing to sacrifice a ridiculous amount of money because, for everything else they do, abortion is their sine qua non.
For those who believe in the sanctity of human life as life made in the image of God, we are called to engage the issue of women’s health; we now have confirmation from the head of Planned Parenthood that the central issue of women’s health for the pro-abortion camp is abortion. No one is opposing cancer screenings; they are opposing, in the words of Cecile Richards, something “vital to [their] mission,” namely abortion.