Updated: Dec 1, 2020
By Carol Queiroz
Image via StudyBreak
Planned Parenthood: an organization founded in 1916 centered around helping womxn have access to family planning services, sexual education, and other forms of general health care. They provide reproductive health services and education to millions of womxn across the nation. However, people have started to sum up Planned Parenthood as an organization that solely provides abortions, causing a lot of controversy and protests. And while yes, abortions are part of the reproductive care Planned Parenthood offers, it is dangerous to call for Planned Parenthood to be defunded solely based on that portion of the care they offer. So we are going to talk about some of the services Planned Parenthood supplies and the governmental/taxpayer funding it receives.
Firstly, let’s get a misconception about funding out of the way. Planned Parenthood does not receive funding from taxpayer money for abortions; abortions are paid for by patients out of pocket. I have personally come across people who are anti-abortion that say they want Planned Parenthood to be defunded because they do not want their taxpayer dollars funding abortions. They cite this as their main reason for not supporting Planned Parenthood. However, only three years after the decision regarding Roe V Wade- the 1973 Supreme Court case that ruled that women should be allowed to choose (without government restriction) whether or not to have an abortion- the Hyde Amendment was passed. The Hyde Amendment blocked federal funding from going to abortions unless it was a case of r@pe, incest, or if the woman’s life was at risk. This is a topic that should be discussed more thoroughly, but in the meantime, you can learn more here or here.
There are a few family planning programs that help with funding for the kind of health care Planned Parenthood offers. But one is a national program that has been implemented legally. In 1970, the Family Planning Services and Population Act (or Title X ) was signed and overseen by President Richard Nixon. For the past 50 years, this federal law has been instrumental in getting womxn everywhere the healthcare they need. Clinics that focus on family planning, such as Planned Parenthood, can apply for Title X grants so they can provide their services to lower-income patients. A few ways Title X has helped has been in:
Helping to fight healthcare inequality and provide affordable contraceptives, reproductive healthcare, STD/HIV testing, and more to people with low incomes who otherwise would not be able to afford them.
Allowing a large number of people to receive the care that they rely on. According to Planned Parenthood, an estimated four million people rely on getting this care through Title X’s funding. Planned Parenthood makes up 13% of Title X centers but cares for 41% of Title X patients, most of whom identify as Black, Hispanic, or Latina.
Contributing to the prevention of around one million accidental/unwanted pregnancies (including roughly 440,000 teenage unplanned pregnancies) per year through affordable birth controls. It has also helped many womxn find early signs of breast cancer.
Benefiting the economy by saving taxpayer dollars. For every public dollar invested in Title X, the United States government saves $7 in "Medicaid related costs." In 2010 alone, Title X funding and the care it helps provide ended up saving around 7 billion dollars in federal and state spending. This impact is very significant since Medicaid is a government program dedicated to helping with medical costs not only related to what Planned Parenthood does.
There has been a lot of talk about the Trump-Pence administration trying to defund Planned Parenthood, but what is actually going on is that Planned Parenthood is being “forced out of Title X”. This is because of the Trump administration’s new domestic gag rule that went into effect on August 19, 2019. Blocking abortion access, this rule prevents clinics from referring patients to abortion providers. The patient must “state a desire to terminate the pregnancy, unprompted by clinic staff." Clinic workers are also now allowed to refuse the patient's request for an abortion provider if it conflicts with their personal moral beliefs in the procedure. Before, decisions regarding the continuation or termination of a pregnancy could be confidential and made independently. When this rule went into effect, Planned Parenthood withdrew from the Title X program, which in turn put people using Title X funding through Planned Parenthood at risk and forced other Title X clinics to “increase their client caseload by around 70%.” In a Tracking Trump article, Planned Parenthood says, “It’s unethical to keep medical information from patients, and Planned Parenthood refuses to be bullied into unethical medical practice — so the gag rule makes it impossible for Planned Parenthood to continue participating in Title X.”
Planned Parenthood has been and continues to be essential for providing millions of womxn with reproductive healthcare. By taking away Planned Parenthood's funding, many low-income womxn are being stripped of their right to basic healthcare. Even if you are anti-abortion, it is important to factor in what else is at stake with eliminating government funding to these organizations, because once again, these are womxn's rights on the line.
Written by writer Carol Queiroz