Local health agency still a target
BY World's Editorial Writers
Saturday, May 14, 2011
5/14/11 at 5:21 AM
Despite ample evidence of the good the agency does for Oklahomans, lawmakers seem intent on kicking Tulsa's Planned Parenthood out of a federally funded nutrition program for mothers and children.
Our hope is there's still a chance the majority of the Legislature will put aside the misguided politics driving the attack on the local Planned Parenthood and come to the conclusion most reasonable Oklahomans have already: that there's no good, rational reason to exclude Planned Parenthood from administering the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program in this area.
An amendment added to a measure several weeks ago would prohibit independent contractors from participating in the federal WIC program, which provides vouchers for food and other nutritional support.
Floor debate made it clear that Planned Parenthood was the target of the amendment. And why? Because some lawmakers think Planned Parenthood, which provides abortion referrals (but not abortions), shouldn't get public money.
The amendment also had the unintended consequence of kicking eight other independent contractors out of the WIC program. After lawmakers found that out, the amendment's author went to work to come up with language that spares the other contractors while still taking WIC away from Planned Parenthood.
Here's the crux of the matter: In kicking Planned Parenthood out of the WIC program, lawmakers won't be punishing Planned Parenthood. They'll be punishing poor women who chose to have their babies and are trying to take care of them. What kind of sense does that make?
If Planned Parenthood is banned from providing WIC services, then the 9,300 clients of that program currently served by Planned Parenthood will have to try to obtain the nutrition services elsewhere. For a mother of limited means, that could prove an extreme hardship and could mean some will have to drop out of the program.
In Tulsa, Planned Parenthood last year also provided about 5,600 pediatric care appointments and about 3,000 prenatal visits, among other primary health services it provides. Some of those contacts were with the same women and children currently receiving WIC through Planned Parenthood. Why not make their lives a little easier by letting them continue to receive all those services in one place?
Here's why: Because the foes of Planned Parenthood can win political points by saying, "We kicked Planned Parenthood out of WIC." The fact poor mothers and babies would be made to suffer as a result is an inconsequential by-product that doesn't matter to them.
Original Print Headline: Poor babies