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Planned Parenthood Can’t Be Defunded

How much money do you think Planned Parenthood gets each year from the federal budget?

Write that number down because I think you’re going to be surprised by the actual answer.  The answer will probably either be higher or lower than your expectations.  I think your expectations say something about how you feel about Planned Parenthood; what you think its worth.

So… have your number written down?  Scroll a little bit for the answer.

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The answer is zero.  Planned Parenthood receives zero dollars from the federal budget.  You cannot “defund” Planned Parenthood because it is not funded in the first place.  It is not a line item in the budget.  It is not like the NEA which was appropriated almost $148 million in the 2016 budget.  It is not like Homeland Security which received about $41.2 billion in the 2016 budget.  Planned Parenthood is not in the budget.

Planned Parenthood is a clinic.  It takes a lot lower income patients because it was set up as a safety net in underserved or rural communities.  But it’s just that — a clinic.  No different from any other medical provider EXCEPT that unlike your private doctor or your local hospital, it has a reputation for providing abortions.  Your private doctor and your local hospital also likely provide abortions, but that is not how you think about your private doctor or local hospital.

Sit with that a minute: If you believe your doctor is “good” and Planned Parenthood is “bad” but both provide abortions, then this is really about economics and class.

When I heard that Planned Parenthood was going to be defunded, I assumed that meant that Planned Parenthood would have their funding removed from the budget.  So colour me surprised when I found out that Planned Parenthood gets zero dollars in the budget.  Yes, my initial number was not the actual zero.

How is Planned Parenthood connected to taxpayer dollars?  The same way every private doctor or local hospital is connected to taxpayer dollars: Patients on Medicaid instead of private insurance.  In other words, a patient goes to Planned Parenthood OR a private doctor for a Pap smear.  In both cases, the office (Planned Parenthood or your private doctor) submits for reimbursement.  If the patient has Medicaid, the office submits to Medicaid.  If the patient has private insurance, the office submits to private insurance.  Medicaid or private insurance reimburses the doctor for payment not covered by the patient.  This is the way all insurance works, simplified.

(We don’t need to get into the fact that doctors ask for X amount and insurance companies give them Y amount.  Or fight the charge.  Or… you get the picture because you’ve dealt with insurance at some point.)

So Planned Parenthood gets reimbursed through Medicaid because a large percentage of their patients use Medicaid.  The government knows this.  They cannot tell a clinic or private doctor or hospital that is following the law that they can’t practice medicine but they can make laws that make it impossible for them to be reimbursed for services.

The CBO points out that there is really only one entity in the United States that fits the criteria for this part of the law, and that is Planned Parenthood:

For a one-year period following enactment, the legislation would prevent federal funds from being made available to an entity (including its affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, and clinics) if it is:

  • A nonprofit organization described in section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code and exempt from tax under section 501(a) of the code;
  • An essential community provider that is primarily engaged in providing family planning and reproductive health services and related medical care;
  • An entity that provides abortions—except in instances in which the pregnancy is the result of an act of rape or incest or the woman’s life is in danger; and
  • An entity that had expenditures under the Medicaid program that exceeded $350 million in fiscal year 2014.

CBO expects that, according to those criteria, only Planned Parenthood Federation of America and its affiliates and clinics would be affected. Most federal funds received by such entities come from payments for services provided to enrollees in states’ Medicaid programs.

Do you get it now?  The new health care bill states that if you are a nonprofit that provides reproductive health services AND provides abortions AND was reimbursed over $350 million in 2014 through Medicaid then you won’t be able to get reimbursed through Medicaid for the new budget year.

So think about whether there is anyone else out there that is a nonprofit (a community health clinic, let’s say) that also provides reproductive health services (okay, still with you) and also provides abortions (okay, they’re legal so that could happen, too) and also got back over $350 million in reimbursements in 2014.  Oh… wait… it won’t affect that community clinic because it’s small and only serves a few thousand people.

This health care bill is like looking at the person you don’t like and describing them, making sure to make your description super specific so no one else could possibly fit the same description.

It is completely reasonable if you want to vote with your wallet and not patron Planned Parenthood.  You do not have to go there in the same way that I do not have to shop at certain stores or eat at certain restaurants.  It’s a decision I make due to the policies of that business.  It is completely unreasonable to say that no one can patron Planned Parenthood (or a store or restaurant) because you do not like it.  As long as abortion is legal in the US, abortions will be performed.

Unless you are willing to also shut down all private doctors or hospitals that perform abortions, protesting Planned Parenthood is a protest against a clinic, not a service.  I don’t think lawmakers are willing to lose their private doctor or not have hospitals to go to in an emergency.  But they totally are willing to go against people who need Medicaid in order to make their point about abortion.

Because 79% of people who use Planned Parenthood have “incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.”  So make no mistake: this is using the most vulnerable in society to make a point about abortion.

If you feel okay with that, keep on keeping on in making America great again.  But if you look down at that slip of paper where you wrote that initial number and feel confused because the media led you to believe that Planned Parenthood is getting beaucoup bucks from the federal government and using it to give abortions (which they can’t due to the Hyde amendment), it may be time for you to get involved.

Call your representative. THE VOTE IS TODAY, but even if this bill doesn’t pass, we all know that lawmakers will try this again and again. So please let me know if you want to help Planned Parenthood, and I’ll add you to a listserve where you can learn how you can make a difference.

how planned parenthood works

March 23, 2017   6 Comments

Remember Chat Rooms?

I read a great piece about the AOL chat rooms, which are technically still up and running though barely used these days.  It made me nostalgic, not for AOL chat rooms because I never had AOL, but chat rooms in general.

I used to do my homework in college while hanging out in a chat room and talking to other students around the world.  I had a standing date for many months with another student in Ballarat, but other people would join in the conversation; random strangers who dropped in and out.

Everyone was polite in my experience with chat rooms, but that could have just been because the Internet was so new and shiny.  It was so mind-blowing back then that no one wanted to crap on it.

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I liked the article because it’s nice to think about little gardening grannies getting together online to talk about azaleas.  I still have a bunch of message boards I frequent around specific topics though it’s different to leave and read messages vs. talk back and forth with someone in real time.

The article made me sad, too, because it felt like walking through the crumbling remains of a once great empire:

There’s a post apocalyptic sense about AOL chatrooms. The abandoned entertainment rooms are about outdated TV shows, celebrities, and movies (think Desperate Housewives, Brangelina, and Twilight). Frequent, longtime users — it seems to mostly be the elderly — who log on to chat about gardening have increasingly been met with trolls who start arguments about President Donald Trump. And yes, there are people — unsure about Tinder — looking for love.

I guess Twitter is the equivalent of today’s chat room.  Or Facebook.  But it’s different because we can curate those feeds vs. expose ourselves to anyone and everyone who stumbles into the same space.  Sure, that is preferred considering how people treat others online, but we’ve lost something, too.

We used to meet new people all the time, and now we’re conversing in echo chambers, culling our friend lists so we don’t have to be annoyed by obnoxious statements.  We can silence people so they continue talking, thinking they’re engaging listeners without knowing that their words aren’t reaching an audience.

And then there are instant messaging apps, which give us conversation in real time with a few drawbacks.  Instead of getting to choose the hours when communication will take place — visiting the room and seeing whose schedule lines up with your own — you’re having people communicate with you when they want to communicate, dropping messages into Slack that pop up on your phone unless you turn off notifications.  In that way, it feels like the phone ringing in my house, letting me know someone else wants to talk, but it’s not necessarily when I have time to talk.

When I first entered the Internet, it made my world feel infinitely larger.  When I think about the Internet now, it feels a lot smaller.  I still meet new people all the time, but I mostly converse with the same people, day after day.  I can’t remember the last time I entered a virtual room, chatted with a bunch of people, and went our separate ways without the strings of a friend request or a follower notification.

Do you still frequent chat rooms?  Do you miss them, too?

March 22, 2017   6 Comments

Every Last Drop

Josh likes to tell people that I talk about waste in the same way that other people talk about murder.  I waste nothing.  I do not even waste the 30 seconds as a meal heats up in the microwave.  I use that time to put away measuring cups from the drying rack.  I do not waste food.  I don’t always eat it myself, but if you stare at Josh long enough, he will make a meal out of the remaining three bites from fifteen lingering Tupperware containers.  I don’t even waste receipts.  I use them as bookmarks.

So I just want to explain the eighty-five open bottles of dish soap, the thirty-one open bottles of shampoo, and the small army of almost-empty hair gel bottles parading across the front of our bathroom cabinet.

They’re all because I waste nothing.

Because I plan to cut open the top of the hair gel container and scoop out the last precious drop with the tip of my finger before I recycle the container.  But the scissors are downstairs and the hair gel container is upstairs.  So I place the almost-empty container in the cabinet and open a new bottle because my hand hurts from trying to squeeze something out of the almost-empty container.  And the next morning, I grab the new bottle because the scissors are still downstairs and therefore too far away if I want to cut open the old bottle.  The cycle continues.

The same thing happens with the dish soap.  When we get towards the bottom of a container, I generally flip it upside down so the contents gather in the top and come out easier.  But I can’t do that with the dish soap because the soap tends to leak out the top of the container.  So when it gets close to the end, I tell myself that I’m going to dedicate an evening to standing in the kitchen, holding the bottle upside down over the sponge so it fills with that soapy goodness.  But that doesn’t happen.  Opening a new bottle on the other hand, does.

Actually, it does happen — all the old stuff eventually gets used — but it’s not before I’ve amassed a giant collection of mostly used bottles.

I’ll admit it — it is really annoying to live with me.

(But I bake cookies.)

March 21, 2017   12 Comments

#MicroblogMondays 134: Fish Love

Not sure what #MicroblogMondays is? Read the inaugural post which explains the idea and how you can participate too.

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I read an interesting thought from Abraham Twerski (The Enemy Within).  It was part of a larger commentary on self-love; not in the positive sense, but in the “putting yourself before others” sense:

The Rebbe of Kotzk noticed a young man thoroughly enjoying a dish of fish.  “Why are you eating fish?” the Rebbe asked.

The young man responded, “Why?  Because I love fish, that’s why.”

“So it was your love for the fish that caused you to take it from the water, kill it and cook it!  If you really loved the fish, you would have let it live.  Do not delude yourself, young man.  What you really love is yourself, and because the fish satisfies your palate, you eat it.”

A fitting thought considering the political climate where so many of us are the fish, and we’re being told that work is being done to make our lives better when we feel like we’re being devoured, all for someone else’s enjoyment.  It’s words not matching up with actions.

Chew on that.

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Are you also doing #MicroblogMondays? Add your link below. The list will be open until Tuesday morning. Link to the post itself, not your blog URL. (Don’t know what that means? Please read the three rules on this post to understand the difference between a permalink to a post and a blog’s main URL.) Only personal blogs can be added to the list. I will remove any posts that are connected to businesses or are sponsored post.

1. Shilpa 9. Raven 17. Amber
2. Melissa N. 10. Empty Arms, Broken Heart 18. Chandra (Pics and Posts)
3. Stephanie (Travelcraft Journal) 11. Modern Gypsy 19. Jess
4. Turia 12. Deboshree 20. Middle Girl
5. Traci York, Writer 13. Risa Kerslake 21. Mary Francis
6. How to Do Simple Priming to Keep Yourself Motivated | TaU 14. Jen [Trigger warning – infertility resolved with children (video/ pics)] 22. Lori@ Laughing IS Conceivable
7. Cristy 15. Shail
8. Isabelle 16. Loribeth (The Road Less Travelled)

March 20, 2017   21 Comments

Women Aren’t Perfect and Men Aren’t Incompetent

I really loved the BBC video last week where the guy was doing a live broadcast and his kids entered.  I loved it for that first kid’s dance she did as she entered the room.  Everyone should aspire to internally (or, frankly, externally) do that dance at some point in their day.

What I didn’t love were the various parody videos, especially the one that showed a woman on air, feeding a baby, cooking a chicken, and tending to the laundry, all while running through her talking points.  Yes, I’m aware that it’s a parody.  I’ve already been told that I need to lighten up when I talked about it on Facebook.

But comedy is a trick thing.  Sometimes we laugh because we recognize a universal truth, and other times we laugh because the piece has pointed out something we never realized.  And sometimes we don’t laugh because the parody misses the mark on both counts.  There’s a big difference between comedy that moves the conversation forward vs. comedy that moves the conversation backwards.

It’s hard to laugh when it’s the latter option.

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Men — totally incompetent, amiright?  That bumbling dad in the original video put out his arm in his panic and stammered around.  If a woman had been in that chair, she would have executed dance-like grace, scooping up the child without missing a beat and using the moment to deliver a witty bon mot about work-life balance.

Except she wouldn’t have.

The parody is unfunny on so many different levels.  For every woman who struggles to get everything done, implying that real women have it all together makes them feel like shit.  I don’t know about you, but I do not operate like the woman in that video.  Does that make me as bad as the man in the original video?  Do I lose my woman card?

For every woman who would like to be known for something more than her child-rearing, meal-cooking, laundry-doing skills, it sticks our socially prescribed roles front and center.  Do you remember anything she said?  I’m guessing not because the focus was on the bottle feeding, chicken-sniffing, lint-brushing actions.  Sure, the portrayal is flattering on the surface — she’s supermum! — until you realize that you didn’t listen to anything she was saying due to the distracting exterior.  It’s a gotcha! moment; you think it’s women empowerment… but it’s not.

For every man who does an excellent job co-parenting (or, in some cases, single parenting) their kids, it turns them into a bumbling fool who can’t take care of the kids OR matching their socks.  How did that man get through life before marrying that smart, savvy, accomplished woman?  Or, the alternative is that we look at the man in the original video, who was doing the best job he could in the moment, and sneer at his inability to somehow stay the course when everything is going off track.

I don’t like being reduced to a stereotype — mostly because it makes me feel like crap about myself because I really don’t fit that calm, cool, collected supermum stereotype — nor do I like to reduce other people to a stereotype.  And that’s where the conversation went this week in terms of the roles of men and women (not to mention the various other discussions that came out of commentary on that video).  I want to blow those stereotypes out of the water; not reinforce them.  Even when it’s just a parody video.

March 19, 2017   10 Comments

(c) 2006 Melissa S. Ford
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