Fighting Against Planned Parenthood, or Its Patients?

E+ / ericsphotography

E+ / ericsphotography

Planned Parenthood is perhaps the most controversial non-profit in the United States. The organization, which was founded in 1916, prides itself on delivering “vital reproductive health care, sex education, and information to millions of women, men, and young people worldwide”. They provide a plethora of services, including STD testing/treatment, contraceptives, and information about safe sex for teens and young adults. The controversy surrounding the clinics spur from the huge debate on whether or not its services should include abortion. Proudly presenting abortion as a form of birth control, their site encourages women to consider all of their options; “abortions are very common. In fact, 3 out of 10 women…have an abortion by the time they are 45 years old”. There have been multiple attempts to end the pro-choice ideology practiced by Planned Parenthood however, there are two main forms of opposition that stand as the biggest threat.

In July of 2015, the Defund Planned Parenthood Act was introduced to the House of Representatives. The Act demanded that for a “one year period…no funds authorized or appropriated by Federal law may be made available for any purpose to Planned Parenthood”. The Act continues on by adding the following condition “unless such entities certify that…clinics will not perform, and will not provide any funds to any other entity that performs an abortion during such period”. This Act is loosely associated with the Hyde Amendment of 1976. This amendment made it illegal to use federal funds to perform abortions regardless of the cause of pregnancy (not until later did the amendment view the law null in cases of rape and incest). The House of Representatives hopes to build on this law by expanding their grasp on Planned Parenthood’s funds and services. If they can use their funding, which makes up 40% of the business’ revenue, as a leveraging tool to end abortion services, this will be viewed as a victory. Congresswoman Diane Black was at the forefront of initiating the defunding of Planned Parenthood. “I will not rest until we put a stop to Planned Parenthood’s blatant abuse of taxpayer dollars to subsidize its big abortion business,” she remarked. The congresswoman isn’t alone; many politicians see abortion services as crossing an ethical line. The question of when life starts is a common point brought up by pro-life supporters. According to the National Right to Life, a pro-life group created to denounce pro-choice and support the right of fetuses to be born, says life begins “at fertilization when the sperm and ovum meet to form a single cell”.

Members of the republican party seem to be torn on whether or not there should be conditions or extenuating circumstances that justify an abortion. Although the Defund Planned Parenthood Act; states “the restriction will not apply in cases of rape or incest or where a physical condition endangers a woman’s life unless an abortion is performed”, republicans such as Ben Carson have other views. The former presidential candidate stated that in cases of rape and incest that he “would not be in favor of killing a baby because the baby came about in that way. And all you have to do is go and look up the many stories of people who have led very useful lives who were the result of rape or incest.

Due to a controversial video that was released, many states have either pulled funding or created complicated laws for Planned Parenthood to get around. The video was presented by a pro-life group and it was believed to have shown organs and other parts of aborted fetuses being sold. This disturbing finding led to many states (including Wisconsin, Indiana, and Texas) pulling funding from Planned Parenthood. Although the content of the video is claimed to have been falsely concocted to paint the organization in a poor light; states are still standing strong in their restrictive laws and held funding. Within the past 6 months, Planned Parenthood has put in motion lawsuits to remove what many view as ludicrous conditions, from the facilities. The conditions that are being demanded of these clinics include “requiring abortion doctors to have privileges at nearby hospitals, clinics to meet hospital-like standards and…regulations that require health centers to be licensed as freestanding surgical outpatient facilities”. By eradicating these restrictions, clinics won’t be forced to shut down, and can provide more service to women.

Regardless of what side of the pro-choice/pro-life argument you stand on, there are a few facts about Planned Parenthood and women’s health that can not be ignored. These clinics provide much-needed services to people who are of a lower socio-economic background. In fact, “79% of Planned Parenthood health care patients live with incomes at or below 150% of the federal poverty level”. President Obama has even remarked that the defunding of the organization would “disproportionately impact low-income individuals”. While republicans are limiting the access women of lower socioeconomic backgrounds have to abortions, women who can afford a private health care practitioner can easily receive abortion pills. When politicians discuss defunding programs such as Planned Parenthood, they are taking a stand against services such as abortion. However, when these groups are providing care to mostly poorer individuals, one must wonder if that is the reason why so many republican politicians find it so easy to condemn the clinics.