The War on Planned Parenthood

Maddie Driggers

Planned Parenthood has been a hot topic in both the social and political world for over two years, especially in the months since the United States Presidential Election. There seems to be a battle of values going on between Republicans and Democrats, and women’s rights have been launched straight into the crossfire through discussion on abortion, reproductive rights and how the federal government plays a role in it all. So, what exactly is Planned Parenthood and what does it do? Why are Republicans fighting to have it defunded and what would happen if it was? Why are they choosing now to push for it?

What is Planned Parenthood?

Planned Parenthood defines themselves as “a trusted health care provider, an informed educator, a passionate advocate, and a global partner helping similar organizations around the world” that seeks to “deliver vital reproductive health care, sex education and information to millions of women, men and young people worldwide.”

Essentially, the organization aims to provide healthcare at low or no cost to its patients, mainly women of low income who can’t afford to go anywhere else. They provide birth control, pap tests, breast exams and pregnancy terminations. The majority of patients, around 80 percent, receive services to prevent unintended pregnancy. Planned Parenthood also provides more than 4.2 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including more than 650,000 HIV tests.

Why has Planned Parenthood been in the news so much lately?

The battle against Planned Parenthood starts with the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The majority of Republicans are against the ACA, also known as Obamacare. However, the party hasn’t been able to repeal it because Obama created the plan and has held office since its genesis in 2010.

Now that President Trump is in charge, and the House and the Senate are controlled by Republicans, they are showing signs of attempting to repeal it. Trump is opposed to the ACA and made promises during his campaign to repeal it. In addition to repealing the ACA, Republicans also plan on attaching a bill that would defund Planned Parenthood. These actions have caused uproar from both parties, sparking much debate and even leading to one of the largest protests in United States history, the 2017 Women’s March.

Why do Republicans want to defund Planned Parenthood?

The Republican platform includes the idea of being “Pro-life,” not supporting the termination of a pregnancy. Many Republicans do not support the idea of women receiving abortions, a medical procedure that Planned Parenthood provides, and they do not want federal funds going towards the practice.Ironically, however, no government money goes towards the act of giving an abortion at Planned Parenthood.

Why do Democrats not want Planned Parenthood to be defunded?

The Democratic platform is “Pro-choice” and supports a woman’s right to choose whether or not to have an abortion performed. Democrats feel that defunding Planned Parenthood would not only take away medical care from low-income women who otherwise would not be able to afford it, but it would also strip women of freedoms they have fought for many years to keep. Abortions only make up a small percentage of the services that are offered and performed at Planned Parenthood each year. In 2013, Planned Parenthood provided 10.6 million services for 2.7 million clients, reported The Washington Post. About 327,653 of these services, or around 3 percent, were abortions.

What are the implications of Planned Parenthood being defunded?

Planned Parenthood relies on the federal government for monetary reimbursements through the Medicaid program for non-abortion health services. The Guardian reports that defunding Planned Parenthood would take away about $400 million in Medicaid money throughout the year and would cause around 400,000 women to lose access to the care Planned Parenthood provides. Even if recipients of Planned Parenthood services are enrolled in Medicaid, it does not guarantee them access to a doctor. If Planned Parenthood were defunded, people who rely on the organization as a healthcare provider may not be able to find a replacement.

Planned Parenthood helps millions of women and men of low-incomes every year. Without it, they simply do not have anywhere else to go to get proper medical care. Being from a low-income family should not mean that people have to sacrifice their physical healthcare needs. It is the right of every American citizen to feel safe and cared for by their government. It is the duty of American lawmakers to protect those rights for the people.

Planned Parenthood should not be thought of as just a place where pregnancies are terminated. Millions of patients rely on the organization for dozens of other services, and they should not have to suffer because of a political battle.

The conversation on defunding Planned Parenthood should not be made into a battle of pro-life versus pro-choice. The root of the issue is women’s health, and lawmakers should be focused on improving it rather than taking it away.