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LEWISTON, Me. — She is 17 years old, has an alarming itch “down there” and has come to the family planning clinic because she doesn’t know where else to go.
Sara Hayes, a nurse practitioner, breezes into the examining room and soothes the teenager. Hayes takes a swab and quickly diagnoses a mild yeast infection — perhaps from scented tampons — while setting aside samples to test later for gonorrhea and chlamydia. Then Hayes explains birth control options, and the girl brightens at the idea of an invisible implant in her arm, fully covered by insurance. It will last at least three years and be more than 99 percent effective at preventing pregnancy.
Finally, Hayes arranges to give the teenager condoms and fixes her in the eye and tells her to protect herself from infections. Always!
Vice President Mike Pence and congressional Republicans have long tried to cut off federal funds for clinics that have ties to abortion, even tangential ones, and this year, with President Trump’s help, they may succeed.
Let’s be clear: This isn’t about the government paying for abortions. That’s already mostly banned. This is about paying for birth control and cancer screenings when the provider has some connection, even a remote one, to abortions.
I asked her about the effort to cut funding for clinics like these, and she said:
“You’re not taking away abortion services. You’re taking away my health care.”