It doesn't matter that abortion procedures represent only a small percentage of the services provided by Planned Parenthood. For the pro-life movement, that is all the organization does.
Last week, when Planned Parenthood announced it was going to close its Hays health center, the response from Kansans for Life was telling.
"I'm always delighted when a huge abortion-minded organization closes one of its affilates," said David Gittrich, state development director for the group. "This is a big positive move for the Hays community. Having a baby is a blessing, not a curse, and any organization that promotes or refers for abortions should be closed. They're not really helping women."
With all due respect, the KFL official is wrong. The Hays Planned Parenthood does help women -- and men for that matter. And young adults of both sexes.
The local clinic does not provide abortion procedures. It never has in its 38-year history. But it has helped thousands of individuals with tests for sexually transmitted diseases, birth control, emergency contraception for patients 17 and older, pregnancy tests and health care for both men and women.
Such facts never have stopped local abortion opponents marching from St. Joseph Catholic Church to the clinic on 12th Street every January on the anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision.
Such facts did not hold sway in the legal battle over Title X funds from the Public Health Service Act. Lawmakers changed the language of the federal family-planning program for low-income Americans to direct all dollars to public health departments and hospitals. Despite all the health care Planned Parenthood had been providing to the target audience, funding was stripped because the organization provided abortion services at some of its clinics.
Not in Hays, mind you. Nonetheless, the Hays clinic will close June 30. Laying off the two local employees and cutting off services to many of this community's poor is the only way Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri said it will be able to keep its Wichita location open.
"The generous support of private individuals across the state, as well as the difficult decision to close our health center in Hays, will allow Planned Parenthood to continue providing services for as many Kansas women and men as possible while Kansas lawmakers continue to play politics with women's health," said the group's interim CEO, Ron Ellifrits.
Did it ever occur to anybody that closing the Hays PP clinic could backfire? That the low-cost, anonymous services provided might actually reduce the number of abortions sought? Or that without the services offered in Hays, the number of sexually transmitted diseases could increase throughout the region?
Planned Parenthood's Hays clinic provides invaluable services that cannot all be absorbed or accommodated by public providers. Regular, deserving women and men in northwest Kansas will have reliable health care and reproductive services denied them because of the push to punish anybody involved with abortion.
Editorial by Patrick Lowry