In a shocking story out of Oklahoma, a Republican state representative amended a senior nutrition bill to slash funding for the Women Infants and Children (WIC) health program, by refusing to allow nine independent contractors to distribute federally funded nutrition and food vouchers to low-income mothers. One of these contractors is Planned Parenthood. Observers said that Planned Parenthood was the clear target in amending the legislation, which shifts responsibility for providing the vouchers to various government sites, mostly county health departments.
Although over the past few months, “pro-life” Republicans in the national Congress have made strong attempts to paint Planned Parenthood as primarily an abortion provider, the Tulsa Planned Parenthood does not, ironically, provide abortion services. What it does do is provide essential care for more than 3,535 women, infants and children. On their website, Planned Parenthood says that this adds up to a yearly average of 42,420 visits by over 9,3000 individual clients.
This system clearly isn’t broken. In addition to administering the WIC program, the Tulsa Planned Parenthood clinics annually provide about 8,600 prenatal visits a year and 5,600 pediatric visits. And the federal funding is almost entirely dedicated to WIC; a mere 6 percent goes toward administrative costs.
So why would legislators want to deny women access to crucial nutrition vouchers which could make all the difference for their health and the health of their children? This measure would undoubtedly curb women’s ability to get the vouchers efficiently, from an organization that cannot use federal money to fund abortions and does not, in the case of this local Planned Parenthood, even provide them. This amendment would leave fewer options for affordable healthcare for women and children – a policy which is certainly not “pro-life.”
Photo from Flickr.