Friday, August 17, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: The folly of defunding Planned Parenthood

When Republicans in Congress vow to defund Planned Parenthood in the name of preventing abortions, they fail to acknowledge the vital women's health services that also would be lost. Think cancer screenings, STD treatment and, most importantly, contraceptives. All of those would be harder to access because — contrary to many claims — other publicly funded health centers are unprepared to fill the void. As the abortion battle revs up anew in Washington, the 2.5 million women across the country who receive basic care at Planned Parenthood clinics should not be forgotten.

A recent report by the Guttmacher Institute, a think tank that supports abortion rights, looked at practical aspects of Planned Parenthood services and compared them with other safety net health centers that receive federal money. For example, the report found that 78 percent of Planned Parenthood clinics offer extended evening or weekend hours to accommodate patients' work and child care demands. Just 18 percent of health departments have extended hours. Planned Parenthood, which has nearly two dozen clinics throughout Florida, is also better able to offer same-day appointments, and its wait times for appointments are shorter. More than other safety net health centers, Planned Parenthood provides a broad range of contraceptives and often it's one-stop shopping. A woman who chooses birth control pills can get them at the clinic rather than making a separate trip to a pharmacy. A patient who opts for an IUD can often have it inserted during the initial appointment. These are small but important accommodations that add up to preventing a lot of unplanned pregnancies.

Planned Parenthood's public funding takes the form of Title X grant money for family planning programs and Medicaid reimbursements for services like mammograms and checkups. By law, taxpayer dollars cannot be used for abortions — though that has never stopped abortion rights opponents from demonizing the group's work. Efforts in Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act, supported by President Donald Trump, have given Planned Parenthood opponents a new avenue to slash funding. But to do that would be to reverse momentous progress.

Abortion in the United States has reached the lowest rate ever recorded, falling below 1 million in 2014. Abortion rights opponents credit state laws that restrict access, and no doubt some women and teens go through with pregnancy because the clinic closest to them has shut down or because they've passed the gestational stage when abortion is legal in their state. But limiting women's choices with little regard for their circumstances, not to mention their autonomy, is punitive and shortsighted. The better way to prevent abortion is to prevent unintended pregnancies, which are also seeing a steady decline, particularly among teens and poor women. That trend coincides with an increase in the use of contraceptives, especially long-acting methods such as IUDs, which are exactly what Planned Parenthood is so effective at providing.

Yet Vice President Mike Pence promised abortion rights opponents at the March for Life in Washington that the Trump administration will push to ban all federal funding for any programs at any organization that also performs abortions. Perhaps the lone point of agreement in the abortion argument is that fewer is better. That trend would be difficult to sustain without Planned Parenthood, which plays a singularly critical role in connecting women most at risk of unplanned pregnancy with the means to prevent it while also ensuring they receive basic medical care.

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Editorial: Journalists are friends of democracy, not the enemy

Editorial: Journalists are friends of democracy, not the enemy

It is real news that the Hillsborough County School District said this week it will accelerate testing for lead in drinking water and release the results after the Tampa Bay Times reported testing would take years and that until we asked families wer...
Published: 08/15/18
Updated: 08/16/18
Editorial: Habitat for Humanity still has questions to answer about selling mortgages

Editorial: Habitat for Humanity still has questions to answer about selling mortgages

A good reputation can vanish overnight, which is why Habitat for Humanity of Hills-borough County made a smart decision by announcing it would seek to buy back 12 mortgages it sold to a Tampa company with a history of flipping properties. The arrange...
Published: 08/14/18
Editorial: Vote — or a minority of the electorate will decide your future without you

Editorial: Vote — or a minority of the electorate will decide your future without you

40%of Americans who were eligible to vote for president in 2016 just didn’t bother. That number dwarfs the portion of all eligible voters who cast a ballot for President Donald Trump — 27.6 percent — or, for that matter, Hillary Clinton, 28.8 percent...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial: Why stand your ground has to go

Editorial: Why stand your ground has to go

Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney Bernie McCabe made a reasonable decision to charge Michael Drejka with manslaughter in last month’s deadly Clearwater convenience store parking lot confrontation. The shooting, which erupted over use of a handicap parkin...
Published: 08/13/18
Editorial: Politics aside, arguments are clear for moving appellate court to Tampa

Editorial: Politics aside, arguments are clear for moving appellate court to Tampa

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Published: 08/09/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Editorial: A big first step toward improving transportation in Hillsborough

Editorial: A big first step toward improving transportation in Hillsborough

The Hillsborough County transit referendum that has made the November ballot is significantly stronger than two efforts that failed to reach the end zone in the past decade. The one-cent sales surtax would generate enough money to meaningfully improv...
Published: 08/09/18
Editorial: Bondi should stop fighting smokable medicial marijuana

Editorial: Bondi should stop fighting smokable medicial marijuana

The fight for medical marijuana in Florida should have ended with the resounding 2016 vote authorizing it in the state Constitution. Instead, the battle for access drags on, with Attorney General Pam Bondi waging the latest round in a lengthy legal b...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Editorial: Warning signs of a mental health crisis in Florida

Editorial: Warning signs of a mental health crisis in Florida

They reach from South Florida to Tampa, from a high school to a college campus, from troubled kids to troubled parents. But there is a common thread connecting these tragedies: Florida has a mental health crisis. Addressing it would require spending ...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Editorial: Time to pursue or sink ferry to MacDill

Editorial: Time to pursue or sink ferry to MacDill

A proposal to use local money to ferry workers to MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa always has been a questionable idea. The loss of nearly $5 million in federal money toward the project makes it all the more suspect. It’s time the ferry supporters off...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/10/18
Blood on the streets of Chicago

Blood on the streets of Chicago

A hot summer weekend, when Chicago should be at its most livable, brings an undercurrent of dread and horror to this city. Summer is block party season, beach season, baseball season. But in some neighborhoods, summer is killing season — when armed g...
Published: 08/07/18
Updated: 08/10/18