Two Follow-ups: Family planning saved in the new budget and Fresno is actually inching toward nuclear power

Artist rendering of Fresno County Nuclear plant - Courtesy Fresno Nuclear Energy Group

Last week we used Fresno, California as an example of a fairly big city – away from geologic fault lines and a large body of water – that might be a safer venue for a nuclear power plant than many of the America’s current plants. We made up the example to show how increased populations are causing increasing energy demands for which there are no ready solutions.

            Due either to inadequate research or – and this is what we prefer to think – tremendous political instincts, two days after we published our blog, the Fresno Nuclear Energy Group (FNEG) and AREVA, a manufacturer of solar steam generators, announced they have signed a contract to initiate the first phase in the development of an advanced clean energy park in western Fresno County.

            It’s FNEG’s ambition to include water treatment facilities powered by nuclear reactors within the same park. Western Fresno County has groundwater that contains high concentrations of salt. FNEG hopes to get around California’s moratorium on nuclear electricity-generating plants by designating its facility as a water treatment facility.

            Really? Fresno is a population, if not an economic, boomtown. And whatever you call the proposed nuclear plant, it’s still going to produce energy in order to accommodate ever-increasing populations. People are migrating from several of California’s high-priced metropolitan areas in order to settle in the Central Valley. Fresno, once simply an agricultural center, is now a city of half a million. And with its relatively cold winters and baking summers, it consumes lots of energy.

Item number two: Whatever insanity is going on in the two policy branches of the federal government, a few bits of reason prevailed. We wrote recently about the insane reasoning of some of the anti-abortion forces in the House. The lunacy does not refer to their anti-abortion positions. It relates to the concept that in order to stem the frequency of abortions, we should curtail funding for family planning. The flag bearer for this mad notion is Representative Mike Pence (R-Indiana). Here is how his reasoning works, “works” if that’s what you want to call it: Planned Parenthood performs abortions, primarily for  poor folks cannot afford another child. Therefore Planned Parenthood should lose its federal funding. This will help stem the tide of abortions. Here is why this reasoning is faulty. Oh, what the heck, let’s be honest, this reasoning is nuts.

Planned Parenthood gets no money from the government to perform abortions. Such funding has been outlawed since the 1976 Hyde Amendment was enacted into law. It has been revised to allow abortion funding only for women who have been raped, are the victims of incest, or whose lives would be endangered without the procedure.  According to Planned Parenthood, approximately 96 percent of its expenditures goes to family planning and women’s health services. The latter includes various cancer screenings. Abortion costs are made through non-governmental fundraising.

            So what is behind Pence’s reasoning? We can think of only two causes. Either he is cynically grandstanding for his constituents and trying to look like a pillar of morality, or behind his very distinguished countenance, lies the brain of the Mad Hatter. Each American pays about $1.07 per year to help Planned Parenthood save women’s lives and prevent unwanted pregnancies, many of which would lead to abortions. After all, if a woman becomes pregnant with a child she does not want, she is a candidate for abortion.

House Speaker John Boehner. Rep. Mike Pence at left.

            In other words, Pence and his followers think that by denying women family planning, there will be fewer abortions. Say what?

            So let us all be grateful that whatever other nonsense is going on in Washington, at least this policy that would lead to increased abortions was dropped from the final budget agreement. Why is this important? During the George W. Bush presidency he refused to spend allocated funds to help family planning around the world. Bush’s thinking was identical to Pence’s. The result was increased abortions among residents of poorer countries, making Bush one of the most pro-abortion (not pro-choice) presidents – by default – of all time.

            As next year’s budget comes to the fore, as it soon will, let’s hope President Obama and the pro-family planning constituency in Congress continue to carry the ball for the prevention of unwanted pregnancies . . . and abortions.

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