Bye Bye, Boehner


Elizabeth (Izzy) Graziano, Senior News Editor

Following Pope Francis’ address to Congress, the Speaker of the House, Republican John Boehner, announced his resignation, effective at the end of October. At the news conference during which he made the announcement, Boehner claimed to have made the decision during his morning prayers. In his statement, Boehner explained that, while he initially intended to resign at the end of last year, he remained in his position to maintain continuity through last year’s election season. Facing the controversy of federal funding for Planned Parenthood, Boehner had recently encountered pressure and criticism from far-right conservatives, who threatened to vote against him. With the proximity of Boehner’s announcement to the Pope’s visit to DC, many have drawn parallels between the two speeches. In his appeal, Francis emphasized the duty of a lawmaker to stimulate the growth of a nation, while uniting and cooperating to “defend and preserve the dignity of your fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good.” Specifically, Republican Senator Mitch McConnell has noted that Boehner’s resignation, in accordance with the Pope’s message, is truly a “selfless act” that fulfills the responsibility of a leader with integrity. Similarly, Illinois representative Republican John Smikus described Boehner’s resignation as an act done “with sacrificial love.” Notably, Boehner’s resignation prevented a government shutdown concerning the issue of funding Planned Parenthood with the federal treasury. However, this focuses on a mere short-term funding bill, and, ultimately, Boehner’s withdrawal will likely bolster the most conservative sect of Republicans.

Most significantly, Boehner’s resignation derailed the threatened government shutdown that would have resulted if he had yielded to the pressure for him to catalyze the defunding of Planned Parenthood. Rather than choosing this path or finding a short-term compromise that would culminate in dealing with Planned Parenthood later, Boehner appears to have made a deal with the Democratic party, and resigned from his role before members of the Republican party forcibly ended his leadership. For months, Republicans have rallied for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, yet Boehner’s resignation has almost guaranteed that, with the government remaining open, Planned Parenthood will remain funded, at least for the time being. By far, the protection of Planned Parenthood’s support is the most significant effect of the Speaker’s resignation. As a leading healthcare provider, educator, and advocate on health care worldwide, Planned Parenthood, although controversial in part, does important and lifesaving work. Aside from their notorious contraceptive services, Planned Parenthood offers STD testing, health education, rape counseling, cancer screening, and family planning services. This includes offering last-minute appointments for women who frequently travel, advising rape and abuse victims, and educating women on wellness and hygiene. Most importantly, Planned Parenthood administers gynecological care at affordable rates for patients who have lost, or cannot afford health insurance. Thus, the organization continuously saves the lives of mothers and children who, otherwise, would not have access to treatment. This information, which barely scratches the surface of Planned Parenthood’s impact, conveys the necessity of such an organization. Consequently, Boehner’s resignation has most significantly avoided, or at least delayed the possibility, of the federal government hindering the operation of a crucial institution.