Warren Scott

I read with interest E.J. Gore’s opinion piece “A War On Women” in the Oct. 29th edition of the Moab Sun News. Although she is obviously passionate about the subject of abortion, her op-edbetter illustrates an epidemic running rampant among politicians, media, and individuals: using hyperbole and factual misrepresentation laced with divisive vitriol to make a point. This unproductive tone has reached a fevered pitch, creating negative and intimidating discourse which sows public discord, media mistrust, and voter disenfranchisement. And while I do not mean to impugn Ms. Gore, I find her article to be representative of the problem.

Before I address her article, let me be clear: I am not staking out a pro-choice or pro-life position. The subject matter is too personal and complex to deal with in an opinion piece, and I sympathize with any woman who is coping with the gut wrenching decision to seek an abortion, whether it be for birth control, the safety of the mother, or the result of rape. The subject is already the most divisive issue in America, and to treat another person’s opinion with anything but respect is to contribute to the problem.

Unfortunately, I don’t sense any mutual respect for opposing opinion in Ms. Gore’s article, and though she begins it with the simple statement: “The facts?,” she continues with complete disregard for them. Thus, I respectively proffer a different set of facts and opinion.

Ms. Gore wrote: “For millions of low income Americans, most of them women, Planned Parenthood is their only source for birth control, HIV and STD testing…”. This statement overlooks a provision of the Affordable Care Act, which compels free coverage for contraceptives. And PP is not a woman’s only choice for other services: there are 13,540 nationwide clinics providing comprehensive health care for women (versus 665 PP clinics). How might those nationwide clinics benefit if the $500 million in public funds were allocated to them instead of PP? I suspect Moab could use its share.

“Planned Parenthood is the difference between life and death for some women; the mammograms…it provides inform them of breast or cervical cancer before it kills them.” The fact is PP does not have a single clinic with a mammogram machine. It only provides referrals.

“A 1976 law prevents government funds [tax payer monies] from being used for abortions, which are funded by private donors, foundations, and client fees.” This statement fails to realize that money is fungible, and money received for one purpose can easily be used for another. So if some of the $500 million in annual taxpayer money is not needed to keep PP’s lights on, then that money can be used to fund abortions. That’s against the law. But beyond that, I personally take umbrage at PP’s lavish spending of taxpayer monies on first-class flights, charter travel, and entertainment costs that, in 2014 alone, included $622,000 on parties. In 2013, PP spent $5,109,997 on travel, which averages approximately $14,000 a day. That’s wasted taxpayer money, an egregious problem rampant within government and government sponsored entities.

“The true belief that informs the GOP’s actions is the need for them – most of whom are privileged and ill-informed men – to control women.” This ridiculous, sexist statement is harmful hyperbole at its worst. Does Ms. Gore realize that 20 percent of the currently serving Republicans in the House are women, and to imply the remaining Republican male members are out to control women is silly. Is this the biased lens through which critical national debate must be conducted?

“When males, without the slightest experience of being a woman, much less carrying a child, go after Planned Parenthood, it’s infuriating. But when Republican women…speak out against the care and lifesaving procedures provided to…their own sex, it’s shameful.” I suggest that it’s shameful to imply that if you’re a woman, you must not voice your conscience if it contradicts PP’s policy, even if it involves the destruction of unborn babies. Further, does Ms. Gore understand that there are plenty of non-Republican women from all walks of life and political persuasion who oppose abortion, and, obversely, a recent Gallup poll revealed 31 percent of Republicans identify as pro-choice?

“These assaults on Planned Parenthood are fueled by what independent sources have confirmed are heavily edited videos…” The anti-abortion group who filmed the videos claim the editing was bathroom breaks and waiting periods between meetings, and in fact, the independent source who reviewed the videos confirmed that “the reviewers could not determine the extent to which undisclosed edits and cuts distort the meaning of the encounters the videos purport to document.” I challenge Ms. Gore to watch each video herself. Regardless of one’s stance on abortion, they are extremely unsettling.

When did our nation lose its ability to conduct respectful debate on critical issues? Instead, topics are discussed in a conflated environment of conflict, mud slinging, and outrageous hyperbole. It’s no wonder that approval for Congress is at an all-time low, and media distrust at an all-time high. Now that’s something to decry.

Warren Scott lives in Castle Valley.