Planned Parenthood: More Than Just Abortion Services

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Sydney Dawes | sd983213@ohio.edu | @sydneydawes_95

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Protestors attend a Pink Out rally to show their support for the health organization. Source: Women’s eNews via Flickr

At its court hearing in September, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards defended the organization’s funding, which was nearly cut back because of the fetal tissue video scandal that happened in the summer.

The sense of urgency on the issue came from the fact that Congress was trying to pass its 2016 budget, according to Buzzfeed, but many anti-abortion Republicans refused to pass a budget that gives any money to Planned Parenthood. According to Mashable, the spending bill was barely passed in time to prevent the government shutdown.

Although abortion has been a controversial topic for some time now, it gained new life after the Center for Medical Progress released videos that depicted Planned Parenthood officials discussing the selling of fetal tissue. According to a New York Times article, these videos were filmed by anti-abortion activist David Daleiden, who presented himself to Planned Parenthood as a representative of a fictitious research center, BioMax.

In a Reuters article, Planned Parenthood denied allegations of illegal activity dealing with fetal tissue. In fact, a 1993 federal law makes fetal tissue research, in itself, legal, said a New York Times article.

According to its annual report, Planned Parenthood received $528.4 million in government funds last year. How exactly are those funds spent? The Washington Post broke down Planned Parenthood’s budget in their article, “How Planned Parenthood Actually Uses Its Federal Funding.”

Interestingly enough, only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s federal funds go toward abortion services. Federal funding, in fact, cannot support abortion other than in cases involving rape, incest and life-threatening health complications to the mother, the Washington Post said. A plurality of government spending on Planned Parenthood—42 percent, to be exact— actually goes toward STI/STD screening and treatment. After that, contraception ranks in at 34 percent of government funding, then women’s health services (11 percent), cancer screenings (9 percent), and miscellaneous services (1 percent) make up the rest of the funding.

What does this 3 percent look like though? According to Buzzfeed reports about 327,000 abortions are performed annually.

Much of the government funding comes through Medicaid reimbursements, said the New York Times. Additionally, Buzzfeed reported that if Planned Parenthood were defunded, about 390,000 women would lose health benefits. Because of the resulting lack of access to contraception and health services, a rise in abortion would have been likely.

In response to the court case, people across the nation participated in Pink Out rallies, which in many cities involved free STD screening and contraception education, said the New York Times. Other supporters simply tweeted using the hashtag “StandwithPP.”

Planned Parenthood has 700 health centers in the U.S., including one in Athens, Ohio. Located on East State Street, Planned Parenthood’s Athens branch offers health care service regardless of whether its patients have insurance. Services include abortion referrals, STD testing and treatment, emergency contraception and other forms of birth control, LGBT services, and pregnancy testing.

Although Planned Parenthood is maintaining funding for now, states will likely challenge it in the months to come through a series of lower court cases.

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