The defunding of Planned Parenthood would be a step backwards in the strides our nation has made towards equality. Planned Parenthood is a place of high-quality and affordable healthcare in America (“Our Services | Affordable Healthcare & Sex Education”). Recently, it has become the center of political and religious discussions with protests and riots developing at Planned Parenthood locations. These protests are calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood, but many of these people do not fully understand how their funding works. There is also a lack in understanding the services provided by Planned Parenthood and the type of patients they cater to. Many Planned Parenthood patients are lower class men and women who rely on Planned Parenthood for contraceptives or prenatal care, and the recent protests have impacted their abilities to receive the care they need. Planned Parenthood is also responsible for cancer screening and other health services, the removal of which would be devastating for the public.
As a place that provides services such as general health care, patient education, and men’s health services, there is a large stigma around Planned Parenthood’s willingness to perform abortions. Planned Parenthood is a global operation that provides reproductive health services to both men and women (“Our Services | Affordable Healthcare & Sex Education”). As stated in the annual report of 2015-2016 of the services provided by Planned Parenthood, approximately 11% of the services from 2015-2016 were dedicated to men’s health services. Additionally, cancer screenings and prevention, along with STI testing and treatments, comprised 52% of their actions. The protests that Planned Parenthood should not exist, as it “encourages abortions,” stands to be disproved, as abortion served as only 3% of their medical services (Planned Parenthood 2015–2016 Annual Report). In many cases, Planned Parenthood will only perform abortions that are medically necessary, in instances such as the mother’s life would be at risk or the baby would have no quality of life. A large portion of the public believes that the government should not be funding Planned Parenthood because they do not want their “tax dollars paying for abortions”. This is backed by a large “pro-life” movement which insists that a woman must carry a child until childbirth no matter what the circumstances (“Anti-Planned Parenthood Rallies, Counter-Protests Taking Place Across America”). This causes issues with therapeutic abortions that are done in instances of health issues. The issue with this argument is that federal government and tax payer money is not currently used to pay for abortions; and the defunding of Planned Parenthood will not prevent abortions, but may actually negatively impact millions of lives.
According to a 2012-2013 study cited in Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, young women who live close to a Planned Parenthood facility are less likely to drop out of high school, and teenage pregnancy also declined (Local Access to a Planned Parenthood Clinic Linked to Reduced Dropout Rates 154). Removing funding from Planned Parenthood would leave many impoverished areas with no access to reproductive health care or knowledge, which in turn would lead to a higher dropout rate and decreased general health in the public. This would lead to a devastating chain of reactions across the nation, as students who do not understand reproduction will become pregnant and be led to believe that they are out of options when it comes to their future. The protests that have been occurring have affected the lives of workers and those in need of care. As covered by Cox, in 2015 on November 7th, a protester opened fire on a Planned Parenthood clinic which injured nine and killed three, one of many attacks that have been acted out against Planned Parenthood across the United States (The Postwar Medicalization of <Family> Planning: Planned Parenthood’s Conservative Comic, Escape from Fear 268).
Since the introduction of the new administration, there has been a rise in protests against Planned Parenthood calling for its defunding. There have been protests outside of many Planned Parenthood locations in attempts to prevent people from entering, in some cases escalating into violence (“Anti-Planned Parenthood Rallies, Counter-Protests Taking Place Across America”). Parts of the public would like to see Planned Parenthood defunded due to their own religious prospects that abortion is wrong, and would like to see none of the tax payer money sent to a place that performs abortions. It is important to note that their objections are not directly related to Planned Parenthood, but instead are aimed at its willingness to perform abortions. “The anti-choice movement smells blood. They realize they have a friend in the White House, they have friends who controls both houses of Congress. They see this as their moment to go on the offensive,” says Roesch (“Anti-Planned Parenthood Rallies, Counter-Protests Taking Place Across America”). What most protesters do not realize is that there is no direct government fund allocated towards Planned Parenthood costs (“Our Services | Affordable Healthcare & Sex Education”). The government money that is received by Planned Parenthood comes from Medicaid, a public health insurance agency for those who cannot afford private health insurance. This means that “defunding” will affect those who cannot afford to visit a primary-care physician due to copay costs. Without access to Planned Parenthood there would be millions who could not afford preventative health care, without which creates the risk that cancer could go undiagnosed, STI’s could spread due to lack of treatment or knowledge of them, and women may miss out on prenatal care leading to more complications later on in cases of pregnancy. Defunding Planned Parenthood would not result in a shutdown of all locations due to lack of funds. A majority percent of Planned Parenthood revenue is generated from private contributions and non-government health services (Planned Parenthood 2015–2016 Annual Report).
With the main public argument being disapproval of tax dollars funding abortions, it is important that individuals know government money cannot be used for abortions. In 1976 the U.S. Congress passed an amendment that prevented the use of federal funds for abortions. The Hyde Amendment prevented any and all government funds through Medicaid to be used for abortions (Adashi & Occhiogrosso; Dennis et al). This was contested in court as unconstitutional and for a while it was ruled that the Hyde Amendment was not to be enforced until a final ruling determined whether or not it was officially considered unconstitutional. It was deemed constitutional. On 24 January 2017, the US House of Representatives passed a bill titled “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2017,” which signified that no tax-payer money would go towards funding abortions (Adashi & Occhiogrosso). As no government money can or is being spent on abortions, the defunding of Planned Parenthood is pulling funds from other essential medical services. Government defunding of Planned Parenthood does not prevent abortions. Instead, it pushes a religion and excuses the behavior of rioters by essentially stating “you threw a tantrum, here is your reward”. It denies the public of reproductive education, health screenings, and in some cases the ability to catch a deadly disease while it may still be treatable. Planned Parenthood does not promote a “morally promiscuous” agenda by providing abortions and sexual education but allows men and women to receive high-quality, low-cost health care.
Adashi, E., & Occhiogrosso, R. (2017). The Hyde Amendment at 40 Years and Reproductive Rights in the United States. JAMA, 317(15), 1523. http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jama.2017.2742
Anti–Planned Parenthood rallies, counter–protests taking place across America. (2017). Newsweek. Retrieved 7 August 2017, from http://www.newsweek.com/defund-planned-parenthood-rallies-held-42-states-anti-choice-abortion-554808
Cox, Travis L.1, [email protected]. “The Postwar Medicalization of <Family> Planning: Planned Parenthood’s Conservative Comic, Escape from Fear.” Women’s Studies in Communication, vol. 39, no. 3, July 2016, pp. 268-288. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1080/07491409.2016.1194936.
Dennis, Amanda, et al. “Strategies for Securing Funding for Abortion under the Hyde Amendment: A Multistate Study of Abortion Providers’ Experiences Managing Medicaid.” American Journal of Public Health, vol. 101, no. 11, Nov. 2011, pp. 2124-2149. EBSCOhost, doi:10.2105/AJPH.2011.300212.
“Local Access to a Planned Parenthood Clinic Linked to Reduced Dropout Rates.” Perspectives on Sexual & Reproductive Health, vol. 48, no. 3, Sept. 2016, pp. 154-155. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1363/48e10816.
Our Services | Affordable Healthcare & Sex Education. (2017). Plannedparenthood.org. Retrieved 7 August 2017, from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/get-care/our-services
Planned Parenthood 2015–2016 Annual Report. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.plannedparenthood.org/uploads/filer_public/18/40/1840b04b-55d3-4c00-959d-11817023ffc8/20170526_annualreport_p02_singles.pdf