Tuesday, May 17, 2011

House GOP continues its long tradition of implementing solutions to problems that don't exist

The budget clock is ticking, and after 9 weeks House Republican leadership finally introduced their own version of the governor's failed spending plan: Corbett-lite.

Despite the delay in their budget intro, the House GOP has been aggressive in embracing every opportunity to take on the standard catalog of conservative policies: repealing federal health care, gun legislation, welfare trimming, and abortion; often with limited time or opportunity for public examination or comment. Is this transparency?!?!

Just last week the state House passed an oversimplified solution to a problem that, while gruesome, under current regulation shouldn't have been allowed to occur in the first place. Attach the word abortion to a debate, and watch people fall into place.

2010's Gosnell abortion clinic tragedy was horrific. Innocent women and babies harmed and killed by a rogue and reckless "doctor." It was national news, and no doubt should never have happened. But redefining abortion clinic, widening hallways, and making rooms bigger would not have prevented the tragedy.

The legislation that passed this week will do little more than close women's health facilities, which, yes may perform abortions in addition to pap smears, cancer screening and provide prescriptions, and thereby limit the availability of these services to low income and rural women.

A similar law in Texas passed in 2004 essentially forcing the shutdown of 80% of the state's providers, compelling women to seek care out-of-state or illegally, and often unsafely.

Philadelphia's Grand Jury report, which allegedly sparked this legislation, found that the Gosnell clinic was allowed to continue operating due to the state Department of Health's failure to exercise its already existing oversight over abortion clinics.

If the Department of Health was negligent in its responsibility to enforce regulations to protect the health and safety of patients as the Grand Jury concluded, changing those regulations doesn't prevent a problem.

Even Philadelphia D.A. Seth Williams said the Republican-authored legislation went beyond the scope of the Grand Jury report.

The Republican chairman of the Health Committee and his colleagues know "abortion" is a hot button issue, and with the House of Horrors Gosnell platform, overregulation was an easy sell.

The purpose of abortion regulations should be to protect women’s health, not to shut down safe providers and limit legal health care options to women and families across Pennsylvania.

But this week's abortion debate is just another example of the House GOP slamming through its agenda without public discourse, avoiding the real challenges, all at the expense of the Pennsylvania people.