Sunday, August 21, 2011

Litjens uses vote to make moral judgment on abortion issue

Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin will soon experience statewide cuts to its funding of approximately $1 million as a result of the recently approved budget from Gov. Scott Walker. In Oshkosh, that means $128,000 less funds. The monies cut statewide are being redirected to county health departments, which do not perform abortions nor necessarily perform any type of family planning services.

Some applaud the decision, saying it will stop unwanted abortions, but on a statewide basis only about 3 percent of what Planned Parenthood does is abortions and no abortions are done at the Oshkosh Planned Parenthood location. Still, for those who do need to end a pregnancy for whatever reason, these cuts represent a problem and could result in them not being able to receive the services they seek. And some believe that could lead to young women dying as a result of trying other means to end their unwanted pregnancy.

Rep. Michelle Litjens, R-Vinland was quoted in this Oshkosh Northwestern article as saying “I just don’t believe that in any way, shape or form the state should subsidize abortion. If (Planned Parenthood) decided not to do abortions or abortion referrals they would be eligible for (more) money. The choice is Planned Parenthood’s.”

Many share that view, but here’s the thing, folks. Like it or not, abortion is legal in the United States and elected officials like Michelle Litjens have no business imposing their own morality on the rest of us with her votes. She was elected to represent everyone’s interests, not just those who position she agrees with. There are plenty of things I find morally offensive or just plain don’t agree with but our tax dollars go to fund. I understand that lawmakers allow their beliefs to factor into their decision making process all the time; but that doesn’t make it right.

It just seems to me in this case, lawmakers, and many in the public, hear “Planned Parenthood” and think only abortion. Abortions are a small part of what they do but it certainly is not the bulk of it and yet, abortion is a part of family planning, though I do not advocate the use of abortion instead of other means of birth control. But sometimes those other means fail; nothing is 100 percent fool-proof. And women should have the right to exercise a legal means of ending that pregnancy if they choose to.

Abortion issues aside, the bigger picture is being missed, and that is that there are many services Planned Parenthood provides that will suffer as a result of these cuts. These are all things that must be considered; and in that regard, and so many others – but that’s for another post – I don’t believe our lawmakers in Madison have done their job.



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