Plan to defund Planned Parenthood vetoed

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe vetoed the proposed bill to defund Planned Parenthood centers in Virginia on Feb. 21. The bill had passed in the Senate with a 20-19 vote.

​The bill would have prevented the Virginia Department of Health from providing funds to clinics that provide abortion services to women not covered by Medicaid.

McAuliffe said that this was the right thing to do for Virginia.

“It’s important for women to have access to quality health care. This is what matters to Virginia families today,” McAuliffe said.

Virginia is home to five Planned Parenthood centers, including one locally on Newtown Road. Many of Virginia Wesleyan College’s students have gone there to complete internships, volunteer and take advantage of services such as birth control, STD testing and overall health care for both women and men.

Junior women and gender studies major Darlene Flucker previously completed an internship with the center and is the president of the Generation Action club on campus.

“Really what is funded, or matched, by the government are services like STD testing, which actually gets the most funding. That, pap smears, and birth control get the main portion of the funding,” Flucker said.

According to Inside Higher Ed, nearly 40 percent of female college students are on oral contraceptives. However, with  recent changes in the new administration, Planned Parenthood and other health clinics have come under scrutiny because of the pro-life versus pro-choice abortion debate.

“That’s how Planned Parenthood operates. An extremely low percentage of the services we provide are abortions. Abortion is just the hot-button topic right now,” Flucker said.

Sophomore Benjamin Astrum approaches the debate from a pro-life standpoint.

“I look at it as a steakhouse. They have steak, but they also have other meals except for steak. But it is still known as a steakhouse. Even though Planned Parenthood offers all of these other services, which are great services, they still are known for abortions. One of the big reasons that I was for this bill is because, though taxpayer money does not directly go towards abortions, … it still goes towards the organization,” Astrum said.

The goal is to educate people, especially people who believe the opposite thing. It is frustrating because educating people is near impossible when they don’t want to be educated.

Darlene Flucker, Junior
Nevertheless, the bill was vetoed and Planned Parenthood will keep its funding. However, the Virginia legislature continually brings this topic to the public’s attention. Just last year, Gov. McAuliffe vetoed an identical bill.

“I think this bill keeps coming up because a lot of people are afraid of change,” Flucker said.

Both Flucker and Astrum agree that this pattern will continue, but for different reasons.

“I think the pattern is something that will continue, even though the bill keeps getting vetoed and as long as we have a democratic governor it will continue to be vetoed. It shows that the state senate is trying to say that this is something we feel very strongly about and that this is something we want to see happen,” Astrum said.

​Something that both perspectives agree on is that this is a subject that needs to be talked about, especially on our campus.

“The goal is to educate people, especially people who believe the opposite thing. It is frustrating because educating people is near impossible when they don’t want to be educated,” Flucker said. “You can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make the horse drink. But I think that is our only option. All you can do is present the facts and hope they make the decision to listen.”

Astrum also said it is constructive for the topic to be aired.

“Even though the bill is almost guaranteed to get vetoed every time, it gets the discussion going that this is something we need to look at. One of the biggest ways to find out the information is through discussion. Unless you go out looking for the information, you will not be able to just find it out of nowhere. I think talking about it with people and discussing what things mean for us.”

Students feel this conversation is an important one.

“I appreciate that there are still people out there who might not be pro-choice but are able to articulate how they feel in a way that isn’t offensive and based off of fact. I think that it is important for both sides to remain that way,” Flucker said.

Julie Ainsley