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Planned Parenthood's Very Bad Year Keeps Getting Worse

Poor Planned Parenthood. America’s largest abortion provider is having a very bad year and thanks to a Republican proposal to make birth control available over the counter, it could be getting even worse.

Despite the President himself siding with no safeguards on abortion to a degree that would surely have pleased Kermit Gosnell, many states have implemented laws making it tougher for abortionists to ply their trade. The result was at least 24 clinics closed last year. And 2014 hasn’t been much better. In May PP closed a clinic in Kansas. Two clinics in Iowa were closed in June as were four clinics in Portland. Another closed in Wisconsin the same month. Three clinics in Indiana closed in July. There have been further closings in Texas as well.

There are various reasons for the closures. In the wake of the Gosnell trial, Texas enacted strict regulations which require clinics to operate as Ambulatory Surgical Centers. Other states, such as Kansas, have cut Title X funding, removing a buffer of federal money that kept some of the clinics in operation. Now there is a new threat to Planned Parenthood’s business model.

As Byron York pointed out at the Examiner, a push for over the counter birth control seems to be catching on with the GOP. “In North Carolina, GOP candidate Thom Tillis recently embraced it. So has Ed Gillespie
in Virginia. Mike McFadden in Minnesota. Gardner in Colorado. And one
of the leading proponents of the move is a potential 2016 GOP
presidential candidate, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal,” York writes.

Planned Parenthood’s response to the proposal has been somewhat tortured. In an awkward press release issued last Tuesday, PP is eager to condemn GOP push for OTC birth control even as it embraces the concept of OTC birth control.

As part of their larger effort to muddy the waters around their unpopular positions on women’s healthand
birth control, some politicians, including Cory Gardner in Colorado,
are proposing to move select forms of birth control over-the-counter.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund supports any effort to expand access to
birth control, including efforts to make some forms of birth control
available over-the-counter (OTC).  At the same time, it is important
that voters know the truth about these claims by politicians running for
office:  they are empty gestures.

So it’s a good idea and PP supports it, just not the people proposing it.

At the Federalist, Ben Domenech offers some insight into why Planned Parenthood is so torn on this issue. He notes that a third of PP’s services are related to birth control, primarily prescriptions for the pill. So if women could simply purchase the pill at Walgreens or CVS, Planned Parenthood could lose a significant amount of money and business to outlets that are closer and far less controversial. And that decrease in business would surely lead to even more clinics closing.

In fact, that’s already what is happening. When four clinics closed near Portland, Oregon the reason cited wasn’t new regulations but a 30% drop in business. PP’s Communications Director told The Oregonian, “Many women who don’t need a Pap test and don’t need to refill a birth
control prescription are choosing not to come in for their annual
well-woman exam and checkup.”

Planned Parenthood is surely aware of what a significant drop in birth control related business would mean for their network of clinics. So, in addition to having a political motivation for opposing the people making the proposal, the group has a very clear financial incentive for pushing back on the idea. Ben Domenech sums up the horns of this dilemma saying PP is choosing “rent-seeking over access.” That’s clearly what they are doing.

By embracing a simple, free market alternative to the status quo, the GOP has the abortion industry on the defensive. That’s very good news for Republicans who were beaten about the head with the Democrats’ “war on women” mantra in 2012.

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