*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
While the nation was preparing to wax emotionally about the terror attacks on 9/11 and Donald Trump was gaining appreciation for “political correctness” in assailing Hillary Clinton’s “bucket of deplorables” remarks, they missed a very important announcement from the Obama Administration. As has been the case throughout his tenure in the Oval Office, Barack Obama took unilateral action to protect women’s constitutional rights from a rabid and toxic religious Republican attack on Planned Parenthood. It is curious why there has been little to no reporting in the main stream media, because the President’s announcement of a brilliantly simple new rule was actually, as Vice President Joe Biden would say, “a big f*cking deal.”
The “BFD” is a new rule regarding Title X funding that affects the most basic preventive health care and family planning services for over 4 million low-income Americans, 85 percent of whom earn under $23,500 annually. About a third of those patients are served by Planned Parenthood that receives roughly $70 million annually in Title X grants for contraceptives and cancer and sexually transmitted infection screenings. Of course Title X forbids using even one penny for abortion services for any reason.
The Department of Health and Human Services new rule simply says that states are forbidden from withholding Title X family planning money for any reason whatsoever “other than a provider’s ability to deliver services to program beneficiaries in an effective manner.” The bottom line is that theocratic Republican states can no longer even vote to defund Planned Parenthood just because some of its clinics offer abortion services.
Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards, said:
“This will make a real difference in so many people’s lives. Thanks to the Obama Administration, [low income] women will still be able to access the birth control they need to plan their families, and the cancer screenings they need to stay healthy.”
The President’s action sent Republican Diane Black (R-TN) into apoplexy, even as she is leading yet another expensive House committee investigation into the fabricated and wildly debunked videos produced by a religious cabal opposed to women’s healthcare and constitutional rights. Black said that the President’s action protecting women’s constitutional rights to choose their reproductive care is a dirty stunt the religious right and United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) are not going to stand for. Ms. Black forgets that America is not governed by the Vatican, and that the U.S. Constitution still forbids Congress from enacting religious edicts. She said in a statement:
“We must use the full force of Congress and grassroots strength of the [Catholic] pro-life movement to defeat this absurd rule and prevent the Obama Administration from carrying out political favors and prop up a scandal-ridden abortion provider.”
First, Planned Parenthood is not scandal-ridden like the religious fanatics that fabricated the hoax videos. In fact, two of the theocrats with the evangelical outfit that produced the highly-edited and thoroughly debunked videos, Center for Medical Progress, were indicted by a Texas grand jury that also cleared Planned Parenthood of any wrongdoing whatsoever. Of course, neither Diane Black nor any other religious Republican will ever mention, much less investigate, the scandal-ridden Center for Medical Progress because religious organizations typically enjoy free reign to lie, cheat and steal; particularly if their motivation is punishing women.
Second, and this is a main reason religious Republicans despise President Barack Obama; defending a woman’s Constitutional right to choose her own reproductive care is not a political favor. It is the President of the United States job and sworn duty to defend and protect the Constitution and by extension the American people, including women, it was created to serve. It is not an exaggeration to claim that without Barack Obama in the White House over the past nearly eight years, what few rights women have earned and fought for as American citizens would have been obliterated by patriarchal Republicans and their USCCB and evangelical masters who made it their duty to destroy one state at a time.
Right now, even as Republicans are attempting to demonize and destroy Planned Parenthood, it is the principal organization “on the front line fight” against the devastating effects of the Zika virus on pregnant women that causes “severe, lifelong birth defects.” In fact, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said “the primary strategy to reduce Zika-related pregnancy complications is helping women avoid or delay pregnancy through robust family planning and birth control.” Planned Parenthood has been distributing Zika prevention kits and educating women in neighborhoods where the virus is spreading like wildfire. Not surprising in the theocratic South with the most “high-risk states for the mosquito-borne and sexually transmitted virus – Florida, Louisiana and Texas – religious Republicans have voted to block funding for the only organization working to control the infectious disease, Planned Parenthood. President Obama’s “new rule” puts an end to that anti-woman atrocity.
The new Title X rule becomes permanent after a 30-day public comment period, which experts say is certain, and it means a quick end to religious Republicans attacks against Planned Parenthood. As Planned Parenthood’s president said,
“This rule makes it clear that politicians cannot ignore the law as they pursue their [religious] agenda to stop women from getting the care they need.”
The new rule also makes it abundantly clear that President Obama is still leading the fight to protect women’s rights and this time he used a stroke of his pen to permanently protect Planned Parenthood and millions of America’s poor women.