Herald-Leader Editorial

Barr wrong about Planned Parenthood; Focus is on birth control, not abortions

July 17, 2014 

In 2013, Planned Parenthood of Kentucky served 5,110 women and 302 men, provided 1,853 cervical cancer screenings and 6,656 tests for sexually transmitted diseases, distributed 5,803 packages of birth control pills and 430 emergency contraceptives, performed 3,286 pregnancy tests and zero abortions.

No abortions.

Planned Parenthood of Kentucky has never provided abortions.

Nationally, abortions make up three percent of the services provided by Planned Parenthood; the overwhelming majority of what the non-profit does is prevention.

Yet, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr, R-Lexington, recently denounced Planned Parenthood as "an abortion factory in disguise that has nothing to do with planning or parenthood."

Those were Barr's words, reported by LEO Weekly, when he spoke last month to the National Right to Life Convention in Louisville.

While that audience might have applauded, many of Barr's constituents will be dismayed to learn that he is so uninformed and/or eager to pander to his party's right wing.

Started in 1933 as the Kentucky Birth Control League, Planned Parenthood in Kentucky sprang from a concern for children. Child welfare advocate Jean Brandeis Tachau, niece of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, and a group of volunteers launched the 15th state affiliate of what would become Planned Parenthood in Louisville. A clinic opened in Lexington in 1936.

Tachau once spent a night in the Breathitt County jail for being "lewd" after a nurse overhead her discussing birth-control methods with a male physician and alerted the local constabulary.

Despite such setbacks, including protests that birth control would deplete the population, the movement gained acceptance and support, in part because practicing birth control reduces infant mortality.

It's perplexing that we're still fighting about birth control all these years later and that contraception and abortion have become conflated and confused in some people's minds.

An all-male majority of the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that the scientific distinction between contraception and abortion does not matter so long as the fallacious belief is a sincerely held religious one.

Barr's opposition to abortion is one thing. Beating up on Planned Parenthood — which has always been about preventing unwanted pregnancies, thus averting abortions — is something else.

Barr displays the same antediluvian mentality that landed a Supreme Court justice's niece in jail because talking about birth control was considered lewd.

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