It was a powerful moment when Rep. Jackie Speier, a Democrat from California, stood up during the House of Representatives budget debate in February to tell members of her painful decision in the past to terminate a pregnancy of 17 weeks because her baby had moved into her cervix.
She was responding in anger to the comment of a colleague who was defending cuts to Planned Parenthood by focusing on abortion and suggesting that abortion is either welcomed, or done cavalierly, or done without any thought. Representative Speier concluded her remarks with these words:
“There is a vendetta against Planned Parenthood, and it was played out in this room tonight,” Speier continued. “Planned Parenthood has a right to operate. Planned Parenthood has a right to provide services for family planning. Planned Parenthood has a right to offer abortions. Last time I checked abortions were legal in this country.”
Despite Rep. Speier’s defense of Planned Parenthood, a sizable majority of the House—which is 83 percent male—voted to stop funding Planned Parenthood. The measure would eliminate about $330 million through the end of September for preventative health services, including federal funding for contraception and cancer screenings, at Planned Parenthood clinics across the country.
Planned Parenthood has helped one in five American women access birth control, use contraception, and have Pap smears, safe-sex and fertility counseling, as well as checks for cervical and breast cancer. Most of its work, with three million Americans each year, is preventive: Only a small fraction of visits are for abortions. And federal funding is never used for abortions. The suggested cuts would deny women access to basic health care and, alarmingly, contraception.
After the House vote, women, many who were uninsured, Twittered their thanks to the organization for providing health care when they had nowhere else to go. Most of these women seeking reproductive health care are poor, often young, and mostly black. About 65 percent of the Planned Parenthood clientele is low-income.
Advocates of Planned Parenthood criticize the vote as a triumph of twisted logic, because if implemented, would not protect women, but would make them less safe. And it was not about preventing abortions, because Planned Parenthood does not use federal funding for abortions. Unfortunately, the unintended consequences of denying women access to family planning is an increase in unwanted pregnancies.
SIRS Lesson Plan & Learning Activity
Assign students to select a Pro or Con position from one of the four listed in the Pathfinder below.
Students should write a report of at least 150 words, or a presentation of at least seven slides. Students should cite at least three resources that address the essential question posed for their chosen position on the issue.
- Use SIRS Knowledge Source from the Virtual Library’s Databases A-Z page
- Click the SIRS Issues Researcher link
- Select VISUAL BROWSE tab
- Click Drugs, Health, and Wellness
- Select Birth Control
- Select one of four issues: Teenage Pregnancy; Abstinence; Emergency Contraception; or Birth Control Availability.
Pathfinder to Notes Organizer: Make students aware of the Notes Organizer tool that helps them copy/paste significant information from their research as well as the original thoughts about their conclusions on the issue.
Students should open the issue and locate the Research Tools section. Click the icon to open Notes Organizer > Select the template “Writing to Persuade-1.”
Pathfinder to SIRS Report Models: ProQuest provides four unique models to promote differentiated instruction.
When you open an issue, click the “My Analysis” icon in the Research Tools section and look under “Additional Resources” for links to these models: Research Guide for the Critical Thinker; Writing a Mini-Research Paper; Creating a PowerPoint Presentation; Mini-Debate Guide.