On August 6, 2015, the first GOP Presidential Debate aired on Fox News. All candidates generally agreed on their abortion stance, as well as defunding the health clinic Planned Parenthood (PP).
Planned Parenthood has generated buzz surrounding the release of a video discussing compensation for fetal tissue in June 2015. Candidates such as Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Florida Gov. Jeb Bush claimed they have already defunded the program during their respective tenures. Walker’s home state of Wisconsin still has 122 Planned Parenthood clinics across the state, but did shut down five, according to CBS News. Bush’s legislation caused the clinic to lose $124,000 in 2003, which was then transferred to abstinence-only education, according to a 2003 report by the St. Petersburg Times.
Pro-life supporters believe Planned Parenthood is a center for only abortions. However, the clinic is an important resource for women and men to receive both sexual and non-sexual healthcare. Taking away Planned Parenthood leaves millions without proper education and care.
Myth: Planned Parenthood sells fetal body parts.
Fact: It doesn’t. The selling of fetal body parts is a felony, but donation of the fetal tissue and organs for scientific research is not. In a July 2015 report by CNN, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said, “I want to be really clear: The allegation that Planned Parenthood profits in any way from tissue donation is not true. Our donation programs -- like any other high-quality health care providers -- follow all laws and ethical guidelines.”
Myth: All of Planned Parenthood’s work is abortion-related.
Fact: According to Planned Parenthood’s 2009 annual report, three percent of procedures performed at the center were abortion related. To bring that figure into numbers, that is about 332,000 abortions out of 11.4 million services provided (Clare Coleman, The Washington Post).
Anti-abortion activists have challenged this figure, however, claiming that it does not represent the organization accurately. The argument is that even though it’s three percent, 99 percent of the reason women go is for abortions. That’s not entirely true, though. According to a report by CNS News, PP performed 327,653 abortions in 2014, which calculates to about the same three percent as the 2009 figure. 34 percent of PP’s services were contraceptive related; 42 percent of services were STD/STI related (The Washington Times).
Myth: Defunding Planned Parenthood will limit the number of abortions performed.
Fact: False. Whether or not you agree that abortion is ethical, women with unwanted pregnancies will find a way to terminate them. The important issue is to keep abortions safe and legal, and provide proper counseling before the procedure. PP does in fact provide education at both clinics and on their website about not only abortions, but sexual health as well.
What is needed, however, is better education on contraception and sexual health in schools. According to a study by the Guttmacher Institute, one in four teens receive abstinence-only education without any mention of contraception. Although teen pregnancy rates are at an all-time low in the country, the Guttmacher Institute says the decline is “almost exclusively” due to the introduction of contraceptive use. What else resulted in the decline in teen pregnancy? Abortion rates.
Abortions decline when women and men are aware of how to prevent unwanted pregnancy. Pregnancy should not be a punishment for being sexually active, or even in cases of rape and incest. Abstinence is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy, of course. But, the discussion of whether or not two partners wish to be sexually active or abstain is not the decision of anyone else but those two partners. Banning abortion will result in unsavory practices, such as the use of coat-hanger abortions. Keep in mind the idea of late-term abortions, which are almost always performed in the event the child and mother may not survive birth.
Many pro-life supporters defend their argument with adoption in the event of unwanted pregnancy. However, in the U.S. alone, over 140,000 children are orphaned, and over 400,000 live without a permanent family (Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System).
Myth: Women could just go to regular doctors, therefore Planned Parenthood is not needed.
Fact: Planned Parenthood is a necessity to many women. The average cost of birth control from a regular pharmacy is between $15-$50 per month, according to U.S. News & World Report. Some women are able to pay less than that, or even nothing, at Planned Parenthood.
PP provides a cornucopia of services for women, men, and young adults. Typically for a flat rate, PP will perform a regular check-up, generally priced around $80 (at least in Virginia). With the average amount of women making 75 cents to a man’s dollar, healthcare at a traditional hospital becomes too expensive.
Myth: Planned Parenthood is wasting taxpayer money on abortions.
Fact: Planned Parenthood does receive funding from the Federal Government, yes. The money PP received from the government in the 2008-2009 fiscal year was estimated at $363.2 million; that is roughly one-third of its revenue (factcheck.org). However, not all of that money is from the federal government directly. Approximately $70 million comes from Title X, the federal Family Planning Program. The remaining $293 million comes from Medicaid, which is federally and state funded.
Even though there is federal funding involved, PP is not allowed to use that money to perform abortions. The Department of Health and Human Services says Title X prevents using their funds to perform abortion as a method of family planning. Medicaid funding is restricted to abortions in case of rape, incest, or a threat to the mother’s health. PP typically charges up to $1,500 for abortion procedures. If a woman is considering an abortion, PP will provide counseling and answer any questions before the decision is made.Abortion is a sensitive subject for many, but it’s important we understand the good Planned Parenthood does for women. We shouldn’t look at it as a pro-life versus pro-choice, but pro-health. Taking away Planned Parenthood will do more harm than good, and leave millions without the proper care they need and deserve.
More information about Planned Parenthood's services may be found on their website, plannedparenthood.org.