As Congress prepares for its summer recess, a Republican bill that would provide $1.1 billion in funding to fight the Zika virus continues to be held up by Democrats, largely because it prohibits further taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood and would allow for the application of federally approved pesticides that would kill the mosquitoes that cause the Zika virus.
Florida U.S. Rep. Tom Rooney (R) writes in an op-ed at the Palm Beach Post that Democrats are blaming Republicans for the failure of the Zika funding bill in order to advance their radical pro-abortion and environmental agendas.
The Conference Report bill includes $100 million to be directed through the Social Services Grant Program and to community health centers in support of areas with local transmission such as Puerto Rico. The Democrats will have you believe that because this funding is going to public community health centers and not to Pro-Familia (Planned Parenthood’s Puerto Rico affiliate), that women in Puerto Rico will not have access to critical care and preventive services they need. This is simply untrue. On the island of Puerto Rico, there are 20 health centers and 84 service sites available that are supported by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. According to the International Planned Parenthood Federation, there are only 11 Pro-Familia facilities.
Rooney’s comments echo those of Rep. Diane Black (R-TN), a member of the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives. Black explained last year, “For every one Planned Parenthood facility, there are 20 federally qualified health centers. Planned Parenthood is trying to put a message out there that if they went away, all these women wouldn’t have care.”
A report on Black’s website notes that FQHCs “provide women with the same preventative services offered by Planned Parenthood, plus the many things they do not offer: mammograms, prenatal care, treatment of diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, depression, etc.”
“In states where the state legislature has defunded Planned Parenthood, low-income women are still able to access the same preventative services offered by Planned Parenthood in addition to many others through these FQHCs as well as community health centers,” the report continues. “These health care providers far outnumber the number of Planned Parenthood locations, which are primarily located only in urban areas.”
Rooney explains the emergency waiver from a redundant Clean Water Act permit that Republicans want states able to have in order to rid areas of the mosquitoes carrying the Zika virus:
The bill includes an emergency waiver — which is not uncommon in a pest-related emergency situation — that removes the requirement for states to obtain a separate Clean Water Act (CWA) permit for pesticide application for a period of 180 days. The bill explicitly requires that the pesticide be approved and applied in compliance with all requirements under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act — the law designed to protect human health and the environment from unreasonable adverse effects of pesticides — it must control mosquitos, and it must be for the prevention or control of the Zika virus. We need to kill mosquitoes; we need to kill them now.
The Zika virus is actually an old problem, one that Brazil successfully fought with the pesticide DDT in the past.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), explained recently that during the 1950s and 1960s, Brazil eliminated the mosquito carrying the Zika virus through the use of DDT.
Fauci said that Brazil was able to stop the spread of Zika through “a very aggressive attempt” to eradicate the Aedes aegypti mosquito that carries the virus and is “a very difficult mosquito to control and eliminate.”
Other experts have urged the government to wipe out the virus completely by lifting a ban on DDT – a pesticide that was wrongly outlawed, they say, by the first head of the EPA – William Ruckelshaus – whose decision went against substantial evidence on DDT’s safety and its health benefits in eradicating mosquito-borne diseases.
While the Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) has recently stated the Zika virus causes a serious birth defect known as microcephaly, Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, writes at the Conservative Pundit:
Zika virus has been found in the brain of a few babies born with microcephaly. But two things are very clear: MOST microcephaly is NOT caused by Zika. About 7 of 10,000 babies born in the U.S. have microcephaly—no thanks to Zika. Most (more than 90%) of the Brazilian babies recently confirmed to have microcephaly tested negative for Zika.
Additionally, MOST mothers who have Zika during pregnancy give birth to a normal, healthy baby. Mothers in northeastern Brazil also had a lot of other problems, including malnutrition, heavy exposure to toxic agricultural chemicals, and an aggressive vaccination campaign.
“In 1970, the safest and most effective public health weapon in history—DDT—was banned by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” Orient explains. “In the 1990s, Mexico agreed to abandon its DDT program as a condition of NAFTA. Mosquitoes travel.”
“Alarm about Zika will be a public relations exercise, covering the waste of millions of human lives and billions of dollars on ineffective or harmful campaigns, if it does not open a discussion of why diseases on their way out in the 1970s are coming back now,” she adds.