Last week, the Republican-heavy House of Representatives voted to stop government funding of Planned Parenthood. As you can probably tell by reading any of my other blog posts, women’s rights, especially those over the decisions that affect our bodies, are very important to me. This being said, let’s talk about Planned Parenthood, and what Congress’ decision means.
Planned Parenthood was founded in 1916 with the goal to provide women’s health care, along with reproductive and sex education, worldwide, regardless of an individual’s ability to pay. With over 700 clinics in the United States and hundreds of others operating globally, Planned Parenthood serves nearly 2.7 million men and women annually, its top services being pre-cancer screenings, sex education programs, and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. Despite what the media portrays, only 3% of administered services are abortion related.
Since the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act of 1970, about a third of the organization’s funding has come from the U.S. government. Legally, however, not a single penny has been used for abortion services; the funds from the U.S. government are solely used for education, screening, and treatment processes. Court case proceedings challenging the services and funding of Planned Parenthood have been occurring since 1976, the most notable, in my opinion, being the 1992 Planned Parenthood vs Casey case, which set the standard of abortion proceedings that included the removal of spousal consent requirement, which previously necessitated the consent of the husband for a woman to receive an abortion. While this may sound like it encourages a secretive relationship, consider the lives of women in abusive marriages, and how they may not want, but are forced into, pregnancy. There has been legislation in over six states considering reducing state funding of the organization, but many of these efforts have been overturned and declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
So what does Friday’s decision, the total cutting of federal government funding to Planned Parenthood, mean? It means that the House of Representatives is so fixated on the political argument of pro-life versus pro-choice that it is willing to overlook the health care and family planning benefits of the organization. Instead of looking at the 97% of services that save people’s lives daily, they are stuck on the 3% of services that are administered only by an individual’s choice. With the huge cut to funding, the availability of health care services may become limited and less affordable to low-income men and women, in turn raising the potential for life endangering conditions in these individuals.
Hold whatever opinion you prefer in the pro-life/pro-choice argument, but understand this – your living conditions are unique to you. If you are simply reading this post, know that you are in the richest 5% of the world’s population. While you may be able to afford sufficient, high-level health care, approximately half of the world’s population doesn’t have that luxury. Planned Parenthood isn’t some fetus killing machine, it is predominantly a health care provider. By the U.S. government cutting funding for the organization, it is essentially cutting health care services for people worldwide. I personally hope President Obama vetoes Congress’ decision, or that the Supreme Court challenges it. In my opinion, it is not fair to take away the availability of health care from those that need it most.