A debate Monday surrounding Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood had everything and nothing to do with abortion, as stigmas associated with the organization were pulled into a case where abortion should have been irrelevant.
The Supreme Court struck down state efforts to block Medicaid funding, preserving lower-income people’s access to reproductive health care services. Louisiana and Kansas were fighting lower court rulings preventing them from blocking lower-income people from using Medicaid funds at offices that provide services like annual health screens, contraceptive coverage and cancer screening, according to CNN.
Federal law already prohibits Medicaid money from being used for abortion services. Whether that should or shouldn’t be the case, it has no bearing upon the outcome of this dispute and whether Medicaid money should be used for a myriad of other health services.
Yet it’s clear this conversation still has much to do with abortion. It’s about the idea that Planned Parenthood is an “abortion business,” in the words of Catherine Glenn Foster, president and CEO of the anti-abortion Americans United for Life.
Something like an STI test isn’t elective. If you have an illness or infection, even if it’s sexually transmitted, you have to get treated. The idea that Medicaid wouldn’t apply to someone visiting a Planned Parenthood office — yet a patient could go down the road to a different doctor’s office with a different name and be treated — is absurd.
Lower-income people on Medicaid should not be restricted from the opportunity to be screened for cancer or STIs just because certain individuals don’t like the stigma behind the organization that’s doing the screening. This personal prejudice could be the difference between someone receiving life-saving medical care or not, and this difference shouldn’t come down to income.
A battle of ideology is harming real people.
It’s unclear whether the conservative judges who voted not to hear this want to avoid controversy at the given time. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, surprisingly, was one of those justices — avoiding taking a public stance on abortion issues for the time being. Maybe he’s waiting for attention to fade surrounding his confirmation, or maybe he truly wanted to be on the right side of history. But either way, we can’t complain.
Justice Clarence Thomas, on the other hand, wrote a dissent saying the court failed to do its job, accusing the court of being biased in favor of the name “Planned Parenthood,” according to CNN. In fact, the reason why this case was brought to the Supreme Court is entirely because of the name.
It’s for all of our benefit that women have access to pregnancy-related services. The future of our world is at stake when women can’t adequately prepare for and care for their children. Who would have benefitted if the Supreme Court had taken up this case?
Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood shouldn’t be up for debate. Planned Parenthood should be able to provide these services to people who can’t get them otherwise. Taking away resources to help women prevent unwanted pregnancy, like thoughtful sexual health resources, is the last thing that will be helpful. Nobody wants to necessitate abortions, but legislators need to put in the legwork if they want women to be able to take care of themselves.
Health care shouldn’t be a privilege for the wealthy. Limiting people from being able to use Medicaid in certain establishments would make it such. It would put those who depend on Medicaid at the mercy of policymakers who make arbitrary decisions on behalf of those who rely on government support.
Yesterday, in refusing to hear the states’ appeal, Supreme Court justices declined to give a voice to people whose premise is based upon a misconception.