The Problem with Planned Parenthood We Should Be Talking About

September 28th 2016

Danielle DeCourcey

Planned Parenthood and abortion are a hot-topic election issue. This week marks an important anniversary in abortion rights: On September 30, the law that blocks federal money from paying for abortions (with the exception of rape, incest, and the life of the mother) turns 40.

The current political battles over Planned Parenthood and access to abortions.

Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has taken a hard line against abortion access and Planned Parenthood, calling for Congress to strip its funds, a position his running mate Indiana Gov. Mike Pence is well-known for. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton supports abortion access and is endorsed by Planned Parenthood (and supports the repeal of the Hyde Amendment).

Anti-abortion politicians want to pull federal funding from Planned Parenthood because the family planning service provides abortions, but this is based on a false premise: The law already says that federal money can't be used to provide abortions and abortions are only 3 percent of the services Planned Parenthood provides, according to The Hill.

However, the fact that federal money cannot be used to pay for abortions exposes discrimination in women's rights to abortion access.

Barring federal money from abortion services means that low-income women on Medicaid can't use public insurance or publicly funded facilities to obtain an abortion.

It also contributes to restrictions on abortion for women incarcerated in federal prisons, some federal employees, Native Americans, women in the military, and women in the Peace Corps.

Some members of the House of Representatives led by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) are calling for an end to Hyde Amendment.

Lee proposed the Each Woman Act last year that would repeal the Hyde Amendment and require the federal government to provide abortion access in public health insurance programs.

"The issue is discrimination in terms of the full range of reproductive services," said Lee on a press call with her colleagues on Wednesday. "That includes abortion as well as politicians making decisions that women have a constitutional right to make."

Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.) said that thinks the time is right to push for and end to the Hyde Amendment, a law that was previously thought to be politically untouchable .

"In the last five years or so the conversation around they Hyde Amendment has changed dramatically," said said. She added that the introduction of the Each Woman Act renewed the push to repeal the amendment.

"The day we introduced the Each Woman Act was truly one of the most exciting days I've had in Congress," said Schakowsky.

The Hyde Amendment was always intended to restrict abortion access.

"I think it's critical that we're clear about who this amendment has targeted for 40 years," said Rep. Joe Kennedy III (D-Mass.) on the press call. "It's low-income women and their families."

The 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade made abortion legal, but anti-abortion politicians have used various tactics to limit access. Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has blocked federal funds for abortion unless the woman's life is in danger or in the case of rape or incest.

The Amendment was named after it's chief sponsor, Rep. Henry Hyde (R-Ill.) The purpose of the amendment was to restrict access, especially for low-income women, which Hyde referenced in 1977 on the House floor.

"I certainly would like to prevent, if I could legally, anybody having an abortion, a rich woman, a middle-class woman, or a poor woman," said Hyde. "Unfortunately, the only vehicle available is the [Medicaid] bill."

More than 6 million women receive health services through the Medicaid system, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Medicaid is both a federally and state funded program.

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