State Representative Daryl Metcalfe (R-Butler) introduced the "Whole Woman’s Health Funding Priorities Act" on Wednesday that essentially threatens to punish health care providers that offer abortion services by redirecting funds to providers that do not.
The name alone is indicative of the misleading nature of the bill. Choc full of fuzzy words like “priority” and “women’s health”, at first glance, the bill appears vaguely pro-women. Don’t be fooled. Like many of its’ predecessors, the true nature of this bill is politically and, not to mention, religiously motivated. This fact became frighteningly clear at Metcalfe’s press conference held Wednesday, which was replete with religious propaganda, including direct passages from the bible courtesy of Senator Kathy Rapp (R-Warren/Forest/McKean). With all of their efforts to dress this bill in sheep’s clothing prior to the conference, they didn’t seem to have an issue letting the wolf out of its cage once the cameras got rolling.
Persistent claims that the proposed bill does not take funds away from family planning and women’s health all together are true if you ignore the large percentage of Pennsylvanians that do not have access to health insurance or a choice about where they go for reproductive health care. What the bill does do is redirect funds from clinics, like Planned Parenthood, who provide over 44,000 Pennsylvania women and men annually, many of whom are uninsured, with breast cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, pap smears, maternity care and other medical services unrelated to abortion.
For many women, Planned Parenthood is the only clinic in an otherwise healthcare wasteland. A large percentage of Planned Parenthood patients live in low-income, rural and medically underserved areas where there generally aren't other reputable providers of the same types of services. Planned Parenthood clinics receive a substantial percentage of their money through state and federal government funding streams, including Medicaid and Titles V, X and XX and so by default this bill would negatively affect these services far more than it would abortion services since NONE of these funds can legally go to abortion.
What is worse, though Metcalfe and his posse made it clear that Planned Parenthood is indeed the primary target of the bill, they have failed to speak frankly about the wide array of other health clinics and even hospitals that would lose precious funding with the passage of this bill. So, while it’s easy for legislators to claim that they are not making cuts to family planning, it is clear that this bill seeks to disempower women who need these services most while simultaneously servicing bible-based politics.