Not much has been said about Gov. Bobby Jindal’s controversial decision to shut down Louisiana’s McDonald’s franchises after a customer in Mason City, Iowa, allegedly discovered fly larvae on a McDouble she purchased there last month.
The reason you’ve not heard about this controversy is, of course, because Jindal did no such thing. To close a restaurant’s franchises in Louisiana over an alleged health problem in another state would rightly be attacked as a massive overreaction, if not outright lunacy.
In a way, however, this is how Jindal has treated Louisiana’s two Planned Parenthood clinics after the release of surreptitious videos purporting to show an official of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America discussing the alleged “sale” of fetal tissue for medical research.
In fact, the official was discussing reimbursement for consensual, legal tissue donations that are common practice and not unique to Planned Parenthood. None of the officials on the videos has anything to do with the Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast and neither clinic in New Orleans and Baton Rouge performs abortions.
The facts, however, were trampled in Jindal’s shameless rush to exploit the controversy for political purposes. Jindal summarily canceled Louisiana’s contract with Planned Parenthood, meaning it would no longer provide family planning and health services to poor women under the state’s federally subsidized Medicaid program. Planned Parenthood has sued, asking a federal judge to intervene.
It’s not as if Louisiana doesn’t desperately need the services offered by Planned Parenthood and other Medicaid providers. The organization’s two clinics perform almost 20,000 tests annually for sexually transmitted infections. That’s important for a state, like Louisiana, which leads the nation in gonorrhea cases and is second in chlamydia and third in HIV and syphilis, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Planned Parenthood also provides gynecological exams, contraceptive care, cancer screenings and other wellness services for thousands more low-income individuals.
If the judge rules that Jindal’s actions are legal, those patients must find services elsewhere — if they can. In Baton Rouge, for example, Planned Parenthood has provided services to 60 percent of East Baton Rouge Parish’s contraceptive clients on Medicaid.
“You can’t just cut Planned Parenthood off one day and expect everyone across the city to absorb the patients,” Dr. Stephanie Taylor of LSU’s School of Medicine told The New York Times. “There needs to be time to build the capacity.” Taylor should know. Since 1999, she has consulted with the section on sexually transmitted diseases for Louisiana’s Office of Public Health.
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