Risks Increase For Vulnerable Americans if Planned Parenthood Defunded


Illustration by Olivia Turner

Once again Planned Parenthood is at risk of losing funding over the ongoing abortion debate. The organization is not widely recognized for the various other health services it provides.

Esther Frances, Print Copy Editor

For over 100 years, non-profit organization Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., commonly referred to as Planned Parenthood, has provided reduced-fee sexual health care and resources for low-income individuals. Additionally, Planned Parenthood offers flu and tetanus vaccines, diabetes screening and employment and sports physicals.

After a 2017 preliminary injunction was vacated by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Jan. 17, Planned Parenthood may be removed from the Texas state Medicaid funding program. Due to common misconceptions and negative stigmas associated with the organization such as Planned Parenthood being an abortion-only clinic, many have supported its defunding.

Approximately $3.4 million would be revoked from the organization, according to a Jan. 18 Washington Post article. This would cause the prices of important services, such as cancer screenings, methods of contraception and sexually transmitted infection (STI) testing and treatment to skyrocket. Planned Parenthood should not be defunded because many low-income individuals rely on the various discounted services it offers.

Approximately 60 percent of the 2.4 million Planned Parenthood patients rely on Medicaid funding for reduced care, according to the I Stand With Planned Parenthood website. The reduced-fee general healthcare combined with the sexual health services and resources that Planned Parenthood provides create a necessary haven for many patients.

Negative stigmas associated with the organization, such as being an abortion-only clinic have caused many pro-life activists to be especially cruel and judgemental, such as Republican Kansas Sen. Steve Fitzgerald who called the organization “heinous” in a March 8, 2017 letter he wrote to Planned Parenthood Great Plains. He also added how his name being associated with the organization was worse than “having one’s name associated with Dachau,” comparing Planned Parenthood to a Nazi concentration camp. This negative association, especially from a senator with great influence, is harmful to Planned Parenthood’s reputation and may contribute towards negative stigma towards the organization.

In reality, Planned Parenthood offers much more than just contraceptive methods. Out of over 570,000 cancer screenings given, 70,000 women had cancer detected or abnormalities identified early on, according to the Planned Parenthood 2017-18 report. If the organization is defunded, thousands of women may lose their opportunity to have cancers and other diseases identified early on, leading to potentially hazardous health consequences. Defunding the organization would also deprive millions of low-income patients to the sexual health care they deserve and can reasonably afford.

Furthermore, though a common stigma is that the organization only caters to women, over 250,000 male patients received services from Planned Parenthood, according to a June 2016 Planned Parenthood report.

In 2017, anti-abortion activists David Daleiden and Sandra Merritt made an undercover video attempting to reveal Planned Parenthood’s illegal selling of remaining fetal tissue for scientific research, according to a 2017 Washington Post article. U.S. District Judge Sam Sparks declared the videos to not have enough evidence for Texas to defund the organization and therefore remanded the case to the district court. After two years, a three-panel judge decided Sparks used an incorrect standard of review, jeopardizing federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

Though the video’s main argument for defunding the organization was on the basis of the abortion services provided, Texas state Medicaid will not cover abortion costs unless, under federal standard, the case involves rape, incest or life endangerment. Texas Planned Parenthood does not receive government funding for abortions — therefore, attempting to defund the organization based off of its abortion services is cruel and unnecessary.

Building on the growing stigma, the Trump administration has introduced a new family-planning rule in which Planned Parenthood would leave the Title X funding program, thereby losing $60 million of annual government funds. If this happens, 1.6 million women who rely on Title X for their Planned Parenthood care would lose the organization’s services, putting their sexual and medical care in serious jeopardy.

Millions risk losing their basic healthcare because of politically driven misconceptions. People need to see beyond the stigmas and recognize the organization for all it embodies. This way its government funding would not be jeopardized and countless people will continue to benefit from Planned Parenthood’s services.