Sunday, May 01, 2011

What does Mitch Daniels have against women's health?


Republican Governor Mitch Daniels released a statement Friday afternoon saying he will sign legislation stripping federal funds from Planned Parenthood in Indiana, the first state to make such a move. 

This is somewhat odd, it seems to me, given that Daniels tends to focus on economic issues and avoid divisive social ones... unless, of course, he's gearing up for a 2012 presidential run and this is a move aimed at stirring up support with the extremist grassroots base of the GOP.

And, indeed, Daniels is specifically targeting Planned Parentood for providing abortion services:

Any organization affected by this provision can resume receiving taxpayer dollars immediately by ceasing or separating its operations that perform abortions.

But Planned Parenthood is about far more than abortion. It's about women's health, and abortion is actually a small part of what it does. More than that, it's about providing health services to women who can't otherwise afford them:

"We do around 500 pap tests a week," Indiana Planned Parenthood President Betty Cockrum told TPM in an interview earlier on Friday. "We will be making phone calls to Medicaid patients all over the state and telling them, either you have to pay for that pap test out of pocket, or you need to find someone else who can take you as a Medicaid patient. We can't do it anymore."

There are 28 Planned Parenthood centers in the state. Almost 60 percent of patients seen last year were living under the poverty line.

Daniels may be doing this to boost his own popularity at home, but he's already in his second term and he can't run for a third consecutive one. So is he doing it simply out of principle? Maybe, but it does seem much likelier that he's doing it with an eye on the White House. Steve Benen:

That only 3% of Planned Parenthood's operations deal with abortions, and that public funding of abortions is already legally prohibited, apparently didn't matter.

What's especially striking about this is how cruel and unnecessary it is. Daniels has been governor of Indiana for more than six years, and he's never had a problem with Planned Parenthood funding. He was Bush's budget director for more than two years, and he never had a problem with Planned Parenthood funding.

But now that he's thinking about running for president, and has hysterical right-wing activists to impress, now Mitch Daniels has suddenly discovered Planned Parenthood funding -- which has enjoyed bipartisan support for decades -- is no longer acceptable to him. 

Indeed, so much for Daniels as a "serious" Republican.

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