The topic of Planned Parenthood, whether of its ethicality or funding, seems to be the topic of choice for most controversial political debates, especially our recent presidential debate. However, the irony of this debate is that the side that tends to fight against Planned Parenthood and urge its defunding is usually taken by white, privileged men who understand little of the realm of services and women Planned Parenthood encompasses, let alone what could possibly be best for women’s bodies and health.
Many politicians on numerous occasions have made outlandish arguments as to why Planned Parenthood is a ghastly enterprise that needs to be defunded immediately. “The problem that I have with Planned Parenthood is the abortion situation. It is like an abortion factory, frankly,” said Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in a recent interview on the Laura Ingraham show. However, in reality abortions are only a small percentage of the services Planned Parenthood provides every year. According to NPR, “…3 percent of the services it (Planned Parenthood) provided last year were abortion-related, according to the organization’s annual report. (For a sense of the scope of that, abortions accounted for about 328,000 of the group’s nearly 10.6 million services provided last year.).”
Most of the services Planned Parenthood provides for women are screenings for STDs, contraception and even other services such as mammograms and cancer screenings. Many of the women who depend on Planned Parenthood for these services often lack access to health care due to financial or social barriers, therefore, defunding a resource like Planned Parenthood would leave many poor, young and desperate women without the proper medical and preventative care they need. “According to PPFA, as of 2014, affiliates’ health centers served over 2.8 million individuals, 83 percent of whom were age 20 or older. Also, among the individuals served, 79 percent had incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level,” states the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
The reality is that Planned Parenthood is sometimes the only resource for contraceptives, preventative care and testing available not only to poor women but to women of color as well, and if you defund the institution which provides for millions of disadvantaged women, then frankly the rate of teen pregnancy, STI’s and unwanted pregnancies will exponentially rise in this country. According to Planned Parenthood’s annual report from 2014, “teenage birth, pregnancy, and abortion rates are down to their lowest levels in 20 years.” While teenage birth, pregnancy and abortion rates may lower than they’ve ever been before, the United States still remains the highest country out of all of the developed nations for STI’s, unwanted pregnancies, teen pregnancy and abortion. Therefore, one could only imagine what would happen to these rates if Planned Parenthood was completely taken out of the picture.
The reality of the debate concerning Planned Parenthood is that people are always going to be sexually active; it’s a fact of human nature. This means unwanted pregnancies and STI’s are always going to be a possible consequence. Therefore, there are many more factors to take into account than just being an “abortion clinic” when discussing Planned Parenthood and the role it has in improving women’s lives. The men, lawmakers and candidates who have recently made it their agenda to defund and shut down Planned Parenthood are, more often than not, misinformed on what Planned Parenthood actually does, the ways in which Planned Parenthood improves women’s lives and the negative fallout that defunding Planned Parenthood would create.