Metcalfe has introduced yet another bill designed on the national level by monied conservative interests, this time an anti-choice group calling itself the Susan B. Anthony List. (That sound you hear is the celebrated feminist turning over in her grave.)
The Whole Woman's Health Funding Priority Act essentially would defund Planned Parenthood from providing health services like screenings for cancer and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as contraception for 120,000 Pennsylvanians annually.
Even though both state and federal law prohibit the use of any taxpayer money to be spent on abortions, Metcalfe insists that "They [Planned Parenthood] provide this testing to bring women in the front door, at the same time there is someone in the backroom performing abortions."
Maybe Metcalfe didn't intend for this to be a factual statement, because it isn't: For one thing, only eight of Planned Parenthood's 42 clinics perform abortions, totally separating out that service from the rest of clinic functions. Besides, Planned Parenthood doesn't receive a lump sum from the government but instead bills the state for reimbursements based on the services it performs, adding an additional check.
Supposedly, the Metcalfe bill would redirect the same amount of funding to hospitals, health centers and other clinics that don't do abortions. But for many patients who live in rural and medically underserved areas, Planned Parenthood is the only place to get affordable breast exams (44,087 done last year), STD tests (207,631) and cervical-cancer screenings (41,313). Also, 96,751 Pennsylvania women received contraception last year, which prevents the very abortions that Metcalfe and pals say they oppose.
A couple of actual factual statements: Publicly funded family-planning services save Pennsylvania taxpayers money -- $184 million a year. And 65 percent of Pennsylvanians from all parts of the state support funding these services.
And another: The Metcalfe bill is just the latest in a series of laws authored by national conservative groups like the American Legislative Action Council (ALEC) and dumped in our state Legislature. For example, a law passed last year that added regulations on abortion clinics to unnecessarily upgrade their equipment mirrored ALEC-authored legislation in other states. Legislation that passed the Pennsylvania Senate that would require women seeking abortions to have ultrasounds — the one about which Gov. Corbett advised Pennsylvania women to just "close their eyes" if they didn't want to look — was also written by ALEC. In six states that passed laws to defund Planned Parenthood in 2011, federal judges have blocked implementation in five, declaring the laws unconstitutional.
It's time for Pennsylvanians to demand that their Legislature, and governor, represent the citizens of the Commonwealth — and not national conservative interest groups.