Dubbing it a “moral imperative,” the Indiana Senate voted yesterday to prohibit state funding for Planned Parenthood or any organization that provides abortion services. The prohibition was added as an amendment to an extreme anti-abortion bill that would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy and require clinics “to tell women in writing that human life begins when the egg is fertilized, that abortions could increase infertility chances and that a fetus might feel pain at or before 20 weeks.”
While the anti-Planned Parenthood amendment passed 36 to 13, one Republican state senator — Sen. Vaneta Becker — actually noted an all-too-common hypocrisy in Republican anti-choice efforts:
Sen. Vaneta Becker, R-Evansville, said she didn’t understand why legislators would take a step of reducing women’s access to health service at [the same time] the state is cutting funding toward programs for mentally disabled children.
“If we are so concerned about pregnancy before children are born, why are we not as concerned after children are born?” Becker said.
In an interview with ThinkProgress this afternoon, Becker said that a lot of people share her view but are too intimidated by the political climate to voice their opposition. Noting the state and federal laws already banning abortion funding, she said the bill “is an attempt to politicize the issue.” In doing so, Republicans will deny thousands of Hoosier woman access to vital health services, she said. Indeed, Planned Parenthood of Indiana states that 85,000 low-income Hoosiers receive birth control, STD tests, Pap smears and breast exams at 28 health centers across the state. “In many areas that are rural, without these kind of services, women will be stripped of health care,” Becker added.
She also noted another glaring flaw in Indiana’s anti-abortion effort. “If our goal is to prevent abortions, we should not be proposing this,” she said. “This piece of legislation will increase abortions.” As Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius pointed out, cutting funding for preventative health increases unintended pregnancies — the leading reason for abortions — and thus increases the number of abortions sought. What this bill will do, said Becker, is “increase sexually transmitted diseases, and the number of women with precancerous conditions that are screened for by Planned Parenthood.”
The extremity of Indiana’s current anti-choice effort was not lost on Becker. In her 24 years in the state house and five years in the Senate, Becker said she has never seen legislation that goes this far.