Rep. Michele Bachmann called for the defunding of Planned Parenthood on Wednesday. In a “special order” floor speech organized by Bachmann and Chris Smith, R-N.J., Bachmann called for an end to any federal money for the network of reproductive health care clinics because Planned Parenthood offers abortion services.
“If you’ve got 882 clinics, you have $1 billion a year in annual revenue, and $330 million of that comes from taxpayer funding, I think that shows pretty clearly they are big business. They are the Wal-Mart of big abortion. They’re the big box retailer,” Bachmann told fellow members of the House. “It is time to end their tax-exempt status. It’s a fraud. And it’s time to stop the public financing of Planned Parenthood. It’s the right thing to do.”
Tim Stanley, executive director of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota (PPMNS) Action Fund, took issue with Bachmann’s characterization. “Planned Parenthood does more in one day to prevent unintended pregnancy and the need for abortion than politicians like Michele Bachmann do in a lifetime,” said Stanley.
Indeed, Planned Parenthood offers a range of services in addition to abortion services, including those that prevent the need for abortion: access to birth control, emergency contraception, pregnancy options counseling, sexuality education, and vasectomies and tubal ligations. Those services are in addition to a range of other reproductive health services such as screening for breast, cervical and testicular cancers; pregnancy testing; testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases; and menopause treatments.
“In spite of what Michelle Bachmann says, Planned Parenthood served nearly 65,000 people last year,” said Stanley. “What this means is that more Minnesotans than ever are in need of health care services, and PPMNS is the safety net health care provider they turn to for the care they need. Nearly 76 percent of PPMNS patients are very low-income and likely to qualify for public insurance programs.”
Those services are offered to men and women who might not otherwise have access to or be able to afford birth control and other reproductive health services.
Planned Parenthood’s expansion into more affluent areas is what triggered Bachmann’s heightened voice in the abortion debate.
The Wall Street Journal reported last month that Planned Parenthood has rebranded its operation and had opened express centers in several affluent Minneapolis-St. Paul suburbs.
“Well, let me tell you, they’ve made a decision, Planned Parenthood, that they are going to go after the affluent. How do I know that? It’s happening in my district, and it was detailed in this article,” said Bachmann. “It said three express centers [opening] in wealthy Minnesota suburbs and shopping centers and malls, places where women are already doing their grocery shopping, picking up their Starbucks, living their daily lives.”
Bachmann continued, “Do we understand what this is? This is to promote women, to promote that woman intentionally take the lives of their unborn children,” she said. “We are asking God-fearing Americans to subsidize this brutal and bloody procedure on a regular business in upscale shopping malls all across the United States.”
Despite Bachmann’s assertion, the Wall Street Journal makes clear that abortion services are not being offered in “upscale shopping malls.” The article says that the mall sites in Minnesota offer “services limited to birth-control counseling and tests for pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections. Most patients are in and out in less than half an hour.”