Thursday, April 28, 2011

Not In Kansas Anymore

I like visiting Kansas every year for the Inge Festival. The people are nice, the town of Independence is attractive in that small-town neighborly way, and when I’ve been to the bigger cities such as Kansas City and Lawrence, they are, as the song goes, up-to-date. And for a conservative state, they’ve turned out some good people to represent them, including Nancy Landon Kassebaum in the Senate and former Gov. Kathleen Sebelius, a Democrat.

But like any state, they’ve got their share of nasty people, too, and when it comes to certain things like reproductive choice, Kansas has had some pretty awful examples of intolerance, including the murder of Dr. George Tiller in Wichita by an unrepentant Scott Roeder. That’s an extreme example. But the state has also elected a new governor in the person of Sam Brownback, who served in the U.S. Senate for two terms and can only be described charitably as far-right. Among other things, he’s militantly anti-choice, and he is pushing legislation through that would completely defund Plannned Parenthood.

Budgets winding their way through the Legislature would redirect about $300,000 in federal family planning funds from Planned Parenthood to state and local health clinics.

The move is similar to one in Washington that almost led to a government shutdown early this month, when Republicans wanted to shut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood in the belief that it provided indirect support for abortions. …

“We have the prospect of being the first state in the nation to enact that kind of law,” said Peter Brownlie, president of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.

Gov. Sam Brownback, a Republican, proposed eliminating the Planned Parenthood funding in his proposed budget for fiscal 2012, which begins July 1.

The purpose is, ostensibly, to save money. That’s the same excuse the GOP tried to use to kill the Kansas Commission for the Arts and other so-called “liberal” organizations that get state funding. The K.C.A. survived, but the truth is that Gov. Brownback and the rest of his like-minded legislators want to get rid of anything that even hints at being progressive; why do women need birth control, and why do we need to subsidize art? All that does is lead to free love and theatre.

Small towns like Independence need to provide its citizens with medical services such as those offered by Planned Parenthood; they can’t rely on the Rexall to be the first choice. And in a rural community that doesn’t even have a FedEx store to make photocopies, people need the help when it comes to making more than just a Xerox.

Gov. Brownback thinks that defunding Planned Parenthood will preserve every sacred sperm and keep the young ladies of the state pure and wholesome; without the temptation of easy contraception, they won’t be doing things they ought not out behind the Dairy Queen. They still will; now they just won’t know where to go to get help when they need it.