The war on Planned Parenthood has been waging for some time now.
In January 2017, Trump reinstated the “Mexico City Policy,” which is sometimes referred to as a “global gag rule,” because it blocks federal funding from going to international organizations that provide abortion counseling, referrals, or services. And now the administration is trying to cut funding for domestic services as well. On May 18, the administration announced a proposed rule that would cut off Title X funding to Planned Parenthood and other centers unless they stop providing abortions or referring people for abortions. Chilling, isn’t it?
It isn’t just the proposed legislative changes either. You’ve probably heard a lot of rhetoric associated with Planned Parenthood too. Conservatives like to portray it as some kind of abortion factory (even though abortions only account for about 3% of their services) that pays for abortions using taxpayer money (there are laws that prevent this).
One right-wing group even went so far to create misleading videos trying to depict Planned Parenthood as illegally trying to sell fetal body parts. Not only was this debunked, but the two anti-abortion activists responsible for the videos are now facing felony charges.
Planned Parenthood’s health centers get about 40 percent of its budget through Title X, the nation’s family planning program — funds that can only be used to support family planning health care. Without these funds, Planned Parenthood wouldn’t be able to operate. And if Planned Parenthood shuts down or is forced to cut back on services, the results would be disastrous — for all of us — and here’s why:
1. Millions of people use Planned Parenthood each year.
As stated above, Planned Parenthood isn’t some kind of abortion factory. It provides sexual and reproductive health care, information, education, outreach, and preventative care to about 1.5 million of Title X’s over 4 million patients each year.
2. They provide care for people who otherwise couldn’t afford it.
Roughly 75 percent of Planned Parenthood’s patients have income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, which is one enormous reason why the organization is so important. They offer affordable birth control and birth control education. They provide STD screening for teens and low-income adults.
And unlike most health-care facilities, Planned Parenthood offers same-day appointments, extended hours, and weekend services–making access to preventive health care accessible for people who work multiple jobs or long hours as well as students.
3. They provide care for teens who otherwise might not have access.
For teenagers who can’t get sexual education anywhere else, Planned Parenthood is a safe space to get information as well as affordable access to birth control and STD testing. Many states have special laws that protect teens’ right to get private sexual health care, even if they’re under 18, but laws on this vary from state to state.
4. They offer quality care for women.
In addition to birth control, women depend on Planned Parenthood for access to affordable annual exams, including an annual Pap screen and breast exam, to help identify cancer early, while it’s treatable. One in five women has relied on Planned Parenthood for health care in her lifetime. And yes, they provide access to safe and legal abortion services (which, again, only account for 3% of their work), but the majority of their work (about 90%) is in preventative services.
5. Yes, they offer care for men as well.
If Planned Parenthood is defunded, women won’t be the only ones to lose out. While services vary depending on location, men can visit clinics for prostate, colon, and testicular cancer screenings, vasectomies, male infertility screenings, and other health service treatments. In 2014, Planned Parenthoods nationwide provided vasectomies to 3,445 men.
6. They provide appropriate, quality care for LGBTQ patients.
Planned Parenthood health centers provide education, support, and sexual and reproductive health services for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and intersex patients. They provide education, resources, hormone therapy, service referrals, and support groups for LGBT teens who may not have any other access to these services.
7. Cutting back on preventative care would ultimately end up costing more money too.
If health care for all isn’t enough to convince you to that Planned Parenthood should be adequate funded because it’s the right thing to do, then consider this: cutting Title X funds ultimately costs taxpayers more money. In fact, the government saves $7 in Medicaid-related costs for every dollar invested in publicly funded family planning programs like those offered by Planned Parenthood.
Additionally, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that barring Planned Parenthood health centers from receiving Medicaid reimbursements, the loss of quality contraceptive care would result in a net cost of $130 million to taxpayers over 10 years due to an increase in unintended pregnancies.
So how can you help support Planned Parenthood? You can give a one-time or recurring monthly donation. You can even donate in a conservative’s name, like Mike Pence. Almost 100,000 people have done just that.
Don’t have money to donate? You can also help by sharing this article, so we let more people know what services they provide and how many people they help. Most importantly, you can support and vote for candidates who support Planned Parenthood and recognize its important role in health care for so many people nationwide.