Health Care is Not a Political Tool

By Barbara Goldberg Goldman, NJDC executive committee member and chair of the Women's Leadership Network, and Sunita Leeds, NJDC executive committee member

Recent months have been worrisome for anyone paying attention to the calculated, manipulative and deceptive attacks by some in the Republican Party on women’s rights and health care needs. The ongoing effort to defund Planned Parenthood, one of the most important organizations providing comprehensive, quality health care to millions of women, is a strong demonstration of where many in the Republican Party stand on issues regarding women, reproductive freedom and accessible health care. Some Republican members are so concerned with portraying this organization as a bad actor, a claim that has no basis in fact, that they are willing to, once again, shut down the government, using women’s rights as a political tool.

Wednesday evening’s GOP Presidential Debate was riddled with outlandish statements attacking women’s health and women’s rights; highlighting a bigger cause for concern – congressional Republicans plan to put this rhetoric into action. During the debate we heard candidates refer to Planned Parenthood as an “ongoing criminal enterprise” and question the need for such an organization that provides women’s health care. 

The Senate is expected to vote on a bill next week, which has already passed in the House, restricting abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy, taking away choice from pregnant women nationwide. As Jews, the Talmud teaches us that when a woman is pregnant, “it is self-evident that it is all her own body,” and 91 percent of American Jews  – including 77 percent of Jewish Republicans – stand in firm agreement that a woman should have the right to choose, to make decisions about her health, her body. This legislation violates that right.

Beyond the Senate vote, the House is expected to vote on legislation that would freeze all federal funding for Planned Parenthood for a year, greatly limiting women’s access to necessary health care, including breast cancer screening, birth control and prenatal care. If Congress cuts funding, likely resulting in the closing of Planned Parenthoods across the country, hundreds of thousands of people – as many as one-quarter of Planned Parenthood's patients – would fully lose access to medical care.

Health care is not a partisan issue. Planned Parenthood, a health care provider, is not a partisan issue, and using it as such is not only is shameful, but it has real, lasting consequences.

We cannot allow these consequences to come to fruition. We cannot sit idly by as some in the GOP continue their assault on women’s rights and health care, threatening a woman’s control over her body and quality health care for millions of Americans.