Republican Senator Joni Ernst (Iowa) is the mastermind behind the bill involving defunding Planned Parenthood that came to a vote before the Senate on Monday.   The bill to defund Planned Parenthood, proposed by the Senator, would effectually end all funding to Planned Parenthood clinics.  The bill was debated by the Senate on Monday and resulted in a 53-46 procedural vote that fell short of the 60 votes needed to proceed with the bill.  On the eve of the first GOP presidential primary debate and days before GOP hopefuls head to Iowa, it comes as no surprise that defunding Planned Parenthood is now a centerpiece of the Republican agenda going forward into the presidential primaries.

On Monday night, Bill O’Reilly attacked the Democratic Party for being “morally bankrupt” for defending Planned Parenthood, which he characterized as an “abortion factory.”   The Republican Party’s fierce attack on Planned Parenthood once again rears its ugly head on the fight against reproductive rights.  Essentially it is a gateway for the Republicans to attempt to strip away the rights of women to make choices over their own bodies and to have access to health care.  The tactic, employed by the Republicans, is to portray Planned Parenthood as an abortion facility, intending to infuriate constituent’s sensibilities.  Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee called Planned Parenthood “an industry of abortion,” during a recent Fox Business Channel interview.

Interestingly enough, Planned Parenthood’s 2013-14 Annual Report, reports that 3% of the services provided by Planned Parenthood were abortion related services, while 42% of the services included test and treatment for sexually transmitted infections and diseases, 34% percent of the services provided consisted of birth control information and contraception, 9% cancer screening and prevention, and 11% basic health care for millions of women.  In 2013, Planned Parenthood performed half a million breast exams, 400,000 pap tests, and 4.5 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

The Republican’s fight to defund Planned Parenthood is not a vote to defund abortions; it is a means to defund services provided by Planned Parenthood, such as birth control, cancer screenings, and basic healthcare for millions of women.  The takeaway point is that there is no federal funding for abortions; the government is barred from using federal funds to pay for an abortion unless the pregnancy arises from incest, rape, or to save the life of a mother.  This means that if a woman makes the personal decision to have an abortion and seeks the services of Planned Parenthood it is of her own accord, both personally and financially.  Therefore, whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, one critical aspect that is overlooked in this debate is pro-health – providing women with access to affordable, legal and safe healthcare.