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Our View: Defunding Planned Parenthood does not serve CD-3

We were disappointed to learn that right out of the gate, U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert’s first introduced legislation was the Defund Planned Parenthood Act, which prohibits federal tax money from going to Planned Parenthood.

Boebert’s action is shortsighted and does not serve constituents who rely on Planned Parenthood for health care.

“The nation’s largest abortion provider has no business receiving taxpayer dollars,” Boebert said in a news release. “Instead of funding Planned Parenthood, my bill will redirect this funding to community health centers that actually meet the health needs of women across the country.”

Here’s what Boebert doesn’t understand. Planned Parenthood does meet well the health needs of women – men, too. Its clinics are community health centers. In fact, Planned Parenthood is exceptional in providing health care for anyone who needs it.

We’re not even talking about abortions.

To be clear, though, we strongly believe in a woman’s right to choose, with any decision made between a woman and her doctor.

But it’s mostly the other health care services that could go away, casualties under Boebert’s bill. Wellness checks and exams, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and the dispensing of contraceptives. Planned Parenthood tends to employ compassionate, helpful people committed to reproductive health services.

In Planned Parenthood’s waiting rooms, you will find patients from all walks of life, all backgrounds. People who step outside of their workplace health provider networks, preferring Planned Parenthood’s care. People who live below the poverty line, and those from every socioeconomic strata in between.

Other Republicans lawmakers introduced anti-abortion bills as well. It’s a tired story. Planned Parenthood has always been a GOP punching bag, with those gunning for the nonprofit not wanting to be bothered by specifics.

Planned Parenthood receives federal funding through reimbursements for patients who rely on Medicaid and other federal programs.

The Hyde Amendment, passed by Congress in 1993, blocks federal funding from being used to pay for abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or if the mother’s life is in danger. The workaround is that, currently, 16 states use its own funding to pay for abortion services for women insured by Medicaid, which fills in some gaps left by the Hyde Amendment.

Thankfully, reproductive choices are at least protected in Colorado. In April 2022, voices of reason in our state Legislature prevailed with the Reproductive Health Equity Act. RHEA protects a person’s fundamental right to make reproductive health-care decisions – including using contraceptives – free from government interference.

Beyond Boebert’s conservative base, was there a rallying cry for her to introduce this bill? Because we didn’t hear it.

Jack Teter, political director at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains, said in an email: “We are not surprised that Boebert continues to sow chaos and dysfunction in Congress instead of focusing on affordable health care for her constituents. Planned Parenthood is the proud primary care provider for thousands of people in Boebert’s district.”

Realistically, the Defund Planned Parenthood Act is likely to fail in the Senate, where Democrats hold a 51 to 49 majority.

Still, Boebert’s win against challenger Adam Frisch was a squeaker, indicative of many constituents who want more than what she’s brought to the table. We want attention on pressing Southwest issues – better jobs, lack of housing, water, education. More rural opportunities. And, of course, health care.

Fortunately, readers, today we can direct you to Page 2B, where we have guest columns about opportunities for education, jobs and training that could be a boon in the Southwest and better people’s lives. Fort Lewis College President Tom Stritikus and University of Colorado President Todd Saliman write about an innovative nursing program that intends to build our workforce and reduce health disparities.

The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent writes about federal spending on shoring up the semiconductor industry and renewable energy manufacturing, providing good paying, high-tech jobs for those without college degrees.

These are the kinds of solutions to critical needs – regionally, in particular – that we want. This is what we want from Boebert. This is how we lift up the 3rd Congressional District. It’s not by defunding Planned Parenthood.