RMC Responds: The Real Commonsense GOPPosted: April 4, 2014
This week, one Facebook commenter suggested that Democrats unequivocally support women’s family planning clinics, while Republicans do not. There are no doubt the vocal social extremists who claim to speak for all Republicans and push their non-stop efforts to promote big government intrusion. However, a look back at the history of both parties reveals that Republicans have firm roots in the family planning movement and as defenders of individual freedom. The GOP, in fact, is the party that originally championed family planning, recognizing it as a smart investment. Prevention services have long been lauded for their role in reducing abortion rates, fostering healthy families, and saving the nation money, and as a result, family planning has deep roots in the Republican Party. Title X (10) of the Public Service Act, the only public family planning program in the United States, originally passed with broad bipartisan support and was signed into law by Republican President Richard Nixon in 1970. One of the chief co-sponsors of this preventative health care legislation was former President (then-Rep.) George H.W. Bush. These elected leaders understood, as pro-choice Republicans do today, that the best way to reduce the need for abortions is to increase access to all reproductive health services.
Now, when we know that $1 spent on family planning saves over $5 in the long run, many have lost sight of the benefits of prevention and have instead become focused on contradictory social and ideological agendas. But this socially conservative opposition to birth control and prevention is a very recent development. Evangelical Christians largely accepted birth control, and even the legalization of abortion, for many years. It was only in the late 1970’s, under the leadership of a small number of Christian leaders, that the tides began to turn. Still, many religious Americans recognize that their faith and social values do not have to conflict with prevention efforts.
Republicans once recognized the critical importance of family planning, and it’s time for the Party to return to those commonsense roots. The GOP does have a history of supporting funding for prevention, because prevention fosters limited government and economic improvements for many. Family planning aligns perfectly with the ideals the Party was founded on and has held for many years, so we cannot allow extremists to rewrite that history. The real GOP, the one that attracts voters, is a party that pushes for commonsense solutions, not one that exacerbates problems by ignoring the causes.