There seems to be, either a fundamental, or intentional misunderstanding of the word “planning”.
Planning is what you do when you know the potential consequences of your actions. Planning is taking that knowledge, and moving forward to either prevent, or ensure a specific outcome.
The absence of planning makes one a slave to unintended consequences. When policy makers consciously choose to remove planning options, it creates another, more insidious kind of slavery.
Such is the case in Hamilton County, where the Hamilton County Commission voted yesterday to table debate on a grant of $581,700 for Family planning services by the Chattanooga-Hamilton Co. Health Dept.
The rationale? Abortion.
Now mind you, these are federal dollars flowing through the state. As a result, they are subject to the Hyde Amendment. They can’t be spent on abortion services in the first place.
Further, there are no abortion providers in Hamilton Co. The prospect of these funds doing anything but what they’re meant to do: provide regular gynecological checkups, oral contraception, condoms and other resources related to reproductive health – is not only unlikely, but impossible.
Despite these facts, the specter of abortion as family planning was raised as a means to derail funding family planning services to 4000 largely poor and uninsured individuals.
That’s family values.
I’ve written several times about what it means to be anti-choice, but I can’t come up with a better example of an anti-choice frame than this.
By putting this grant funding in question, the Hamilton County Commission is also not simply limiting the choices of women who may have no other place to turn, they are removing options.
This is not about abortion. This is not even about the concept of choice. This is about removing options on misplaced ideological grounds, from a position that is either intentionally or tragically misinformed.
Abortion is something that happens when their either isn’t a plan, or that plan fails. There are many more cost effective and less emotionally charged options than abortion. By removing options for women, you ensure that more abortions will happen.
Yet some seem to believe that there is some equivalency between abortion and contraception. There isn’t. By taking that position, it accurately frames the individual as not just anti-abortion, but anti-women’s health, which is the definition of anti-choice.
Commissioner Mitch McClure dismissed that his position is ideologically based.
“My questioning and my negative vote has nothing to do with political ideology,” he said. “It has to do with my belief that every child is a human being … at any point of conception.”
If a “child” is a human being at “any point of conception”, that means that sperm is a human being because it is in a “point of conception”…pre-conception.
Is anyone really willing to accept that as a standard?
There are dire consequences for Hamilton County if this grant money is denied. There will be an increase in teen pregnancy, and single mothers. There will be a decrease in pre-natal care, which will cause an increase in infant mortality. Sexually transmitted diseases will increase. The list goes on and on.
If you want to understand what will eventually become of Hamilton Co. if these funds are denied, you need look no further than Shelby Co., where our grant funds for Family Planning amount to just $630,000 for the County Health department even though we have nearly three times the population (some money has gone directly from the state to outside agencies, but I’ll address that in a future post).
What the Commissioners that voted against this funding are advocating is not planning, but ensuring there is no plan.
If you live in Hamilton County and are concerned about the future of this program and the women it serves, please contact your County Commissioners and encourage them to accept these funds for the good of the women who have been served by this program for years.