If you made a mistake and studied logic as a child instead of politics, you probably assume that a foe of abortion is a fan of family planning. After all, you reason, the best way to deal with an unwanted pregnancy is to prevent it.
Under this cloud of logic, you probably even assume universal support for Title X. That federal program funds family planning, serves some five million women a year, prevents some 800,000 unwanted pregnancies and some 400,000 abortions every year.
The reality however -- the political reality -- is that Title X is under strenuous attack by those who insist that a vote for the family-planning program is a vote for abortion. Remember Voodoo Economics? What we have here is Voodoo Biology.
The way the law is currently written, no Title X money can be used for abortions. But that isn't enough for the pro- life crowd. They insist that the money is nevertheless "tainted." What they call for is a "wall of separation" between birth control and abortion.
In blissful harmony, Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Jack Kemp (R-N.Y.) have offered identical amendments to Title X, and the White House has chimed in with its approval. They propose that if Title X is continued beyond the Nov. 14 deadline, no federal funding could be used for abortion counseling or referrals. Nor could federal money go to a group, clinic or hospital that performed abortions with its own funds.
This is the first time that Kemp has taken such a lead role on a conservative "social issue." He appears to be primping his right wing for the flight of 1988. The pressure, however, comes from restless pro-lifers who have gotten very little from the Reagan administration. Their strategy has changed from trying to make abortion illegal to trying to make it impossible. This is their most direct attack yet on birth control.
In real life, as opposed to politics, no medically ethical doctor or clinic can refuse to tell a patient the full range of medical options. Whether a woman has a ruptured appendix or an unwanted pregnancy, she has the equal right to information about treatment. She must give informed consent. Any clinic that took federal money promising that its doctors would never utter the word "abortion" could lose that money in a malpractice suit. Such a "gag" rule is also unconstitutional.
What of the amendment to deny birth-control money to groups who offer abortions under the same roof or masthead? Most abortions are performed in hospitals. Faced with a choice, most hospitals could not stop performing a legal medical procedure. They would stop doing family planning.
A prime target in the Title X shooting match is Planned Parenthood. The group gets $30 million of the $142 million in Title X money and is a vocal enough pro-choice group to raise the hackles of Hatch-Kemp folk. But Planned Parenthood, a well-funded private organization, would be hurt less by the demise of Title X than the small health departments and neighborhood clinics that serve the poor.
"It's pure insanity," says Faye Wattleton, president of Planned Parenthood. "Half of the six million pregnancies in this country are unintentional. There is no rational explanation for this attack on Title X unless you assume that the anti-abortion people are committed to ending contraceptive practices."
It's time, past time, to assume just that. The "pro-family" line is more overtly "anti-family planning" every year. There has been pressure at HHS to review so-called "abortifacients" such as the IUD and even the pill.
Judie Brown, president of the American Life Lobby, has said, "We are opposed to all forms of birth control with the exception of natural family planning." Joe Scheidler, the founder of the radical Pro-life Action League, put it this way in an interview: "I think contraception is disgusting."
In this carefully styled assault on Title X, pro-lifers describe themselves as architects for a "wall of separation" between abortion and birth control. But what they are trying to build is a wall that would separate families from planning.