Ms. Weynand is a freelance writer covering a wide variety of topics, with a focus on politics and social issues.
The Attack on Planned Parenthood
In recent days and weeks, we have been witness to some troubling issues. One of those issues, defunding Planned Parenthood, became a particularly dark one for women (and men) here and around the globe. Vice President Mike Pence, with one swift swipe of his pen, set into motion legislation which will allow states to deny federal family planning money to Planned Parenthood.
The Bill passed in the Senate shortly thereafter. Only two GOP senators tried to block the measure, Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, and Susan Collins, Maine. Now, the measure waits only on the signature of President Trump, who is expected to sign without hesitation.
On the heels of the Republican health care reboot implosion, they needed something to pull their quickly dividing party together. This Senate measure would repeal a regulation put in place before President Obama left office. The Obama administration measure prevents state and local governments from withholding those federal family planning dollars to organizations that provide abortions.
Herein lies the problem—there is, and has been, a ban in place which prevents federal dollars from going toward abortions, with exception to extenuating circumstances.
While millions were able to keep their insurance coverage due to fighting among Republicans, the death of the bill aimed at repealing the Affordable Care Act also saved Planned Parenthood. Included in the bill was a measure which, as stated above, would prevent any federal funding from going to the organization. This is something that for many years, Republicans have attempted to establish.
Services Planned Parenthood Provides
- Birth Control
- Body Image Counseling
- Cancer Screenings
- General Health Care
- Men's Sexual Health
- Morning After Pill
- Pregnancy Care
- Relationship Counseling
- Sex Education
- Sexual Orientation & Gender Counseling
- STD Screenings and Treatment
- Women's Health
What Planned Parenthood Does NOT Do
Use federal dollars for abortion.
Let's Talk About Defunding
Here we sit with a list of things Planned Parenthood does and does not do, yet the majority of the Republican party wants to defund the organization due to a procedure that receives no federal funds to begin with.
That doesn't make any sense to me. I will admit to being more than a little puzzled by their logic. Let's look at this for a moment before we move on.
Politicians have grown fond of using the term "defunding" when the talk turns to taking federal funds from Planned Parenthood. Erika Sakin, the group's political communications director, said the wording is misleading. In an interview with Business Insider, Sakin said, "There's no line item in the budget for Planned Parenthood. We're not funded through the federal budget bill."1
The various Planned Parenthood clinics throughout the country now serve almost 2.5 million people annually. Nearly two-thirds of those people use public assistance programs, such as Medicaid, to pay for services. Bills that are passed to defund the organization, (whichmany states already have), force these people to pay out of pocket.
The Hyde Amendment
What is the Hyde Amendment? It is an amendment that prohibits any federal fund expenditures on abortions with a few exceptions:2
- If pregnancy is a result of rape or incest.
- The woman suffers from a physical disorder, injury, or illness, including a life-endangering physical condition caused by the pregnancy itself, that would place her in danger of death unless an abortion is performed, as certified by a physician.
The measure is already in place and it does exactly what it was designed to do. It prevents the procedure from being federally funded. Therefore, I had to stop and ask myself if any of the republicans took the time to understand this.
For a bill which, in theory, should stop abortions by defunding Planned Parenthood, all it will succeed in doing is forcing people to go elsewhere or do without possibly life-saving screenings, and many other services.
Nearly 100 years ago, when Planned Parenthood was founded, birth control was illegal.
— Cecile Richards
9 Common Misconceptions About Planned Parenthood
Here are nine misconceptions about Planned Parenthood:3
- Misconception: Abortion is the most popular service provided by Planned Parenthood. Fact: Abortions count for only 3 percent of the health care services provided. The main reasons for visits are birth control (31 percent) and STI/STD testing and treatment (45 percent).
- Misconception: Planned Parenthood only provides services to women. Fact: While services vary by location, men can visit for prostate, colon, and testicular cancer screenings, vasectomies, male infertility screenings, and other services.
- Misconception: Planned Parenthood is only for wealthy women, they'll find health care elsewhere if it shut down. Fact: Roughly 75 percent of patients have income at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level.
- Misconception: Defunding Planned Parenthood would be good for taxpayers. Fact: Without necessary and low-cost health care, Medicaid spending would go up for the federal government and taxpayers.
- Misconception: Teens are being indoctrinated to have sex at a young age. Fact: Planned Parenthood provides access to sex education. Several studies4 show no correlation between sex ed and increased sexual risk taking.
- Misconception: Planned Parenthood is only available to cis-identifying patients. Fact: Planned Parenthood now offers hormone therapy for transgender patients. In 26 of 650 locations, transgender men and women can receive testosterone and estrogen treatments.
- Misconception: Planned Parenthood could survive on private donations alone. Fact: More than 40 percent of funding comes from federal, state, and local funds. That is $553 million of the annual budget, (from it's 2014-2015 report.5) Planned Parenthood would not survive in communities with a large portion of patients on Medicaid and Title X grants. They have yearly expenses around $12 billion,5 82 percent going to client services, education, and research.
- Misconception: Planned Parenthood only provides services to Americans. Fact: In 2014, Planned Parenthood Global distributed sexual and reproductive health resources and information to over 1 million people around the world.
- Misconception: There will be thousands of other clinics available to women if Planned Parenthood is defunded. Fact: Local community clinics do not have the means and resources to pick up all Medicaid and Medicare-supported patients.
Repeating Without Research - It's a Problem
False Narratives and Myths About Planned Parenthood
Last year, former presidential candidate Carly Fiorina, along with many others both in government and those online, caused a media firestorm when she continued to cite edited video of Planned Parenthood selling baby body parts. Mike Pence and Donald Trump fueled the flames with such suggestions that Planned Parenthood is merely an abortion factory. While 1 in 5 women will visit a Planned Parenthood clinic, abortion is rarely the reason.
I know that in the past couple months we've all heard or said the new catch phrase, "alternative facts," and it seems that many of the Republicans have long played along with those other pesky facts. This, however, isn't funny. It's not a game, now it's a reality that many will be without access to low-cost birth control and services. You have to stop and ask yourself if this were a bill to stop any type of coverage for men's Viagra or Cialis or whatever erectile dysfunction (ED) drug you want to mention, would they be so quick to rid the men of access to the medications? While it's only a thought, it's a genuine question.
Simple Ignorance or Blatant Misrepresentation?
Now that we've cleared up a few of the myths surrounding Planned Parenthood's services, let's take a quick glance at two ridiculously incorrect statements made by a couple of the people who decided we no longer need access to affordable, comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care.
Lying About Abortion
- On July 21, 2015, Rep. Bill Johnson (OH) said, "In 2013, abortions made up 94 percent of Planned Parenthood's so-called pregnancy services."7
- September 29, 2015, Republican Rep. Jason Chaffetz displayed a slide during Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richard's congressional committee testimony. The graphic shown depicted a massive drop in cancer screenings and prevention corresponding with a drastic rise in abortions. He claimed it came directly from Planned Parenthood's annual reports, but Richards denied having ever seen the document. Her lawyers confirmed the graphic did not come from Planned Parenthood, but rather, an anti-abortion group.8
These are just two examples of the spread of misinformation about Planned Parenthood; there are more out there. Will there come a point in time when even Republicans say, "hey, wait a minute, something isn't right here," or will they simply follow the leader until the day comes that these issues affect them personally? The recent health care reform attempt should have been an eye-opener to everyone.
So here we find ourselves at a place in time where our freedom of choice is in question. Our bodily autonomy is also in question and each day we are forced to confront something new. When our elected government officials begin to allow their personal and religious beliefs to dictate what we can and can't do with our bodies, we've reached a point where we are no longer moving forward, but being thrown backward. We have to be strong enough to say, that enough is enough. We won't take it anymore. Because right now, you might agree with this, but what happens next, when they try to take something else from you?
Remember, abortions do not receive federal funding, abortions are a small portion of Planned Parenthood's services. You do not have to agree with abortion, however, you do not have the right to impose those beliefs on anyone else. As a side thought, hospitals in certain cases are capable of and do perform, abortions. Would you vote to defund those? If you don't want to have an abortion, don't get one— just don't use it as an excuse to destroy a health care option for millions of others.
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
© 2017 Sherrie Weynand