Sunday, September 27, 2015

Of Course Not: Update on McSally's opposition to a shutdown: She also votes against Planned Parenthood.

Subtitle: Mea culpa.

A few days ago I reported on US Rep. Martha McSally (R, CD2) and her signing onto a letter opposing a government shutdown. I should have dug deeper before awarding her any points. She earlier voted against Planned Parenthood. I should have known. Jim Nintzel at Tucson Weekly/The Range has that story.

After voting last week to cut off all federal funding for Planned Parenthood for one year, Congresswoman Martha McSally was one of 11 freshmen who signed onto a letter opposing a government shutdown over the issue.

But McSally’s office has declined to say whether she still supports shutting off funding for Planned Parenthood in the future. Several GOP presidential candidates as well as Republican lawmakers have vowed to cut off the federal funds Planned Parenthood now receives to provide treatment for STDs, cancer screenings and contraception, among other healthcare services. Federal law prohibits Planned Parenthood from using tax dollars for abortion services.

So McSally has reverted to form. In the end, we don't really know where she stands on women's reproductive health care. She signs onto a letter that is going nowhere (42 rabid GOPlins vs. 11 freshman Reps). She votes to defund Planned Parenthood (sucking up to the GOPlins). And then she covers that vote with a refusal to say what her position really is.

Nintzel's main story, however, concerns McSally's attempt to move Planned Parenthood funding to other agencies.

McSally spokesman Patrick Ptak told the Weekly earlier this week that McSally had pushed to include a provision in the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2105 to move the funding that now goes to Planned Parenthood to other community health centers, such as El Rio Community Health Center.

But at least one of those centers is not hot about the idea.

But Tara Plese, a spokeswoman for the Arizona Alliance of Community Health Centers, says the organization—which represents community health centers across the state, including El Rio—doesn’t see that plan as viable.

"While we really appreciate the support we’re getting from both sides of the aisle, we just want to make it clear that we don’t want to take funding from any other healthcare organization," Plese said. "We don’t think it’s the right approach to do that."

These centers rely on Planned Parenthood's services.

"Quite honestly, I think the assertion that health centers are going to pick up the slack because we’re going to get a little bit more funding is probably not accurate," Plese said. "Because the way that the health system works, we need our partner organizations working in tandem to be able to adequately deliver these services and one of those organizations is Planned Parenthood. We really rely on them to pick up a lot of the slack for those areas that we cannot cover."

Plese said part of the problem is that El Rio doesn’t have enough obstetricians and gynecologists to handle the additional patient load. On top of that, many people choose to use Planned Parenthood to get tested for sexually transmitted diseases because the organization offers anonymity and some of those who are getting tested for STDs don’t want their primary-care doctors or insurance companies to know they may have caught an STD.

"They want the anonymity," Plese said. "It’s a privacy issue and they don’t want that to show up on their explanation of benefits."

Plese said that Planned Parenthood clinics "exist for a reason."

"They are filling a gap in services that our community health centers and other primary care providers are not able to fill," Plese said.

You can read the response from McSally's press agent hack in Nintzel's report. The bottom line is this.

Ptak did not say whether McSally, who has said she opposes allowing women to have abortions except in cases of rape, incest or when the life of the mother is at stake, supported cutting off all funding for Planned Parenthood in the future.

That's why this is a good candidate for my "Of Course Not" series.

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