Sometime in your life, you’ve probably heard of Planned Parenthood. Maybe you know someone who was treated there, maybe you’ve seen it in the news and on political debates, or maybe you’ve personally been affected by their treatments. Whatever it is, you’re probably aware of the organization, but how much do you really know about it? After several false accusations and misconceptions I’ve been hearing on this issue lately, I decided to try and clear a few things up about what Planned Parenthood is, what they do, how they spend the money they receive, and why they should continue being government funded.
Planned Parenthood is one of our nation’s leading providers of health care and the largest provider of sex education. There are about 700 health centers throughout the United States operated by 59 independent local affiliates. Over 2.7 million women and men visit Planned Parenthood health centers annually for health care services and information and 1 in 5 U.S. women have been to a Planned Parenthood at least once in their lives.
Planned Parenthood's mission statement is: "A Reason For Being." They believe in the fundamental right of each individual, throughout the world, to manage his or her fertility, regardless of the individual's income, marital status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, national origin, or residence. They value diversity, privacy, education, safety, support, and reproductive knowledge/understanding. For more of their mission, click here: https://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/who-we-...
The health centers main focus, however, is on prevention. About 80 percent of their clients receive health services to prevent unintended pregnancy, which prevents approximately 516,000 unintended pregnancies each year. Along with that, they provide pap tests to treat sexually transmitted diseases, breast exams to detect cancer, and education to young people and adults through programs and outreach. Of all Planned Parenthood health services, only 3 percent are abortion services. The breakdown of their different services are indicated in the chart below:
Planned Parenthood receives about $450 million a year in federal funding. Of that, almost $400 million is reimbursement for services covered by Medicaid. It is prohibited by law for any federal funds to be used for abortions. The government funding covers 40 percent of the organization total $1.3 billion in revenue for last year, meaning it would be in huge financial trouble without the funding.
So where is this money coming from? Two programs: Medicaid, a health care program, and Title X, a federal family planning program, both of which are primarily targeted towards lower-income Americans who would likely otherwise not be able to afford health care. About 75 percent of Planned Parenthood patients have income below 150 percent of the poverty line.
Recently, anti-abortion activists have been accusing Planned Parenthood of being a dishonest profit seeking organization. On September 18, the House of Representatives passed a bill (241-187) that would take away federal funding for one year. This bill was prompted by videos released by an activist group which claimed that Planned Parenthood officials were illegally selling fetal tissue for profit. Planned Parenthood denied all accusations, saying the tissue was donated and all services are non-profit. No wrongdoings were shown and there are currently no charges towards Planned Parenthood. President Obama has come forward saying he plans to veto the bill.
Locally, on September 4th, the Planned Parenthood center in Pullman, Washington was victim to an arson attack and forced to close down until further notice. This took away a valuable resource for a lot of Planned Parenthood patients in this region. This is unfortunately unsurprising considering the fact that there have been 186 arsons committed against abortion providers since 1976, averaging four per year.
In our area, a similar health care service to Planned Parenthood would be Wish Medical, a faith based non-profit located in Moscow, Idaho. This organization is funded by the community, including 80 percent individual community member support and 10 percent church donations. Wish Medical offers similar services to Planned Parenthood, but does not prescribe contraceptives nor does abortions, which is 80 percent of what Planned Parenthood patients go in for. Other health clinics prescribe contraceptives, but usually not as affordable as Planned Parenthood does.
Here are my main arguments for the continued funding of Planned Parenthood:
1. A lot of the hate and criticism Planned Parenthood receives is because they perform abortions. Regardless of your personal opinions regarding abortion, it is not possible to stop every woman from getting the procedure if they are unprepared to have a child, no matter what programs are defunded. Thousands of women die from unsafe abortions per year and defunding Planned Parenthood would make getting abortions even more difficult to get and likely increase the number of deaths.
2. Out of all the three million women Planned Parenthood provided services to last year, 329,000 received abortions. It seems illogical to defund a program because they disagree with 3 percent of its services, especially since no taxpayer money is going to abortion procedures. The other 97 percent of services offered are important and highly needed services that Planned Parenthood makes so affordable and available thanks to the funding.
3. Politicians do not have right to dictate women in their private health care decisions. Women should have the right to decide what happens with their own body and deserve full access to contraceptive services they may need. The first Planned Parenthood was opened in 1916 in Brooklyn, New York. During this time, women still didn't have the right to vote, sign contracts, have bank accounts, or divorce abusive husbands, yet they had resources for their contraceptive health. It's now 2015, 100 years later, and we're still trying to take that away? Men can walk into almost any drug store or gas station to buy contraceptives, but women have much more limited resources to get theirs. Planned Parenthood has made it easier and more affordable for women to get those contraceptives.
4. A good portion of taxpayers’ money goes to supporting women with unintended pregnancies who are without means to take care of their children. With this in mind, the services Planned Parenthood provides actually saves the federal government money. On September 30th, I attended a UI Campus Conversation session with Planned Parenthood as the topic, and a representative from the organization informed us that every $1 that goes towards family planning saves taxpayers $7.
5. Defunding Planned Parenthood would more than likely cause the organization to fall apart. This would cause hundreds of employees out of work and about 600,000 patients needing a new place to receive health services, if they can afford to go anywhere else, and likely lead to thousands more unplanned births.
6. Most importantly, Planned Parenthood should continue being funded because of their helpfulness and reliability. Millions of people rely on the organization for information, resources, health care, and other services because they are genuinely there for patients.
They are there for the uninformed teenager who is beginning to become sexually active and is too afraid to tell her parents. They will answer all the questions she feels like she can’t ask anyone else and do all they can to help her prevent an unwanted teenage pregnancy that would severely alter her future.
They are there for the man with cancer in his family who wants an affordable way to receive cancer screenings often. They will detect any early warning signs and ensure he stays cancer-free.
They are there when the condom breaks on the couple who is in no way ready for the commitment and responsibility of a child. Plan B is not even close to the expense of a baby.
They are there for the member of the LGBTQ community who doesn’t totally feel comfortable getting health services done from a religious affiliated organization.
They are there for the woman who was impregnated against her will. They will offer her support, empathy, and give her potential options for what to do next.
And they were there for me when I walked in as a nervous and naive 16-year-old with a lot of questions. They made me feel comfortable, answered everything I asked, and made a noticeable effort to respect my privacy and level of comfort.
Planned Parenthood is not an organization aimed at killing infants or selling human tissue for profit. It is an organization aimed at prevention, support, and affordability to both men and women, all things there aren’t enough of in the world lately. I have and will continue to stand by Planned Parenthood and their right to continue being funded.