Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota called for the defunding of Planned Parenthood last
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
"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
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