By Alyssa Yakey
October 1916- Margaret Sanger officially opened the doors to the first Planned Parenthood in Brooklyn, New York.
December 1970- Planned Parenthood is federally funded under President Richard Nixon.
January 2017- President Donald J. Trump announced his plans to defund Planned Parenthood.
March 2017- President Donald J. Trump offers to keep federal funding for Planned Parenthood if abortion services are ceased.
March 30, 2017- U.S. Senate narrowly votes to pass legislation that will allow states to withhold federal funds from Planned Parenthood.
Three months into Trump’s presidency and his vow to withdraw financial support from Planned Parenthood is already at work.
Planned Parenthood is a nonprofit organization that is one of the nation’s leading providers of quality healthcare services for both men and women. Contrary to popular opinion, Planned Parenthood offers more than just abortion procedures and defunding this organization can cut access off to affordable healthcare for 2.5 million Americans.
Services offered at Planned Parenthood’s 650 facilities nationwide include screenings for cancer, tests and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases, anemia testing, flu vaccines, thyroid screenings, sex education seminars, physical examinations, diabetes screenings, cholesterol and high blood pressure screenings, breast examinations, access to contraceptives and more.
In fact, Planned Parenthood released that it provides birth control for two million people, as well as over four million STD tests and treatments, 360,000 breasts exams and 270,000 Pap tests per year. With these astonishing numbers, one can draw the crucial need and importance Planned Parenthood holds in regards to reproductive health and knowledge.
According to the organization’s annual report, only 3 percent of the services carried out happen to be abortions, although one of the main criticisms this organization receives is based on the stigma of being an abortion clinic. Because of this, Planned Parenthood is on the verge of losing federal funding and prices for the now affordable services will increase. Planned Parenthood states that this has the potential to cause devastating consequences for millions of people — particularly people of color, those with low incomes, and people in rural communities who already face barriers to care.
An estimated one in five women in United States has visited a Planned Parenthood health center at least once in her lifetime and Stephanie H., 22, master’s student at Western Michigan University is part of this statistic.
Stephanie was educated early on about reproductive health and inspired by Planned Parenthood’s inexpensive treatment toward her while attending school.
“Planned Parenthood is the only reason I didn’t end up pregnant in high school. I was young and couldn’t talk to my mom or anyone in our very Catholic community about sex, but they gave me information and access to safe birth control and I’m forever grateful for that,” Stephanie said.
“I’m currently considering working in OB/GYN as a healthcare provider so that I can teach young women about their reproductive health,” Stephanie said, “And I wouldn’t be able to do that today if it wasn’t for Planned Parenthood.”
Like Stephanie, women across the U.S. turn to Planned Parenthood for birth control, advice and a safe haven from turmoil caused by opinion. Stephanie’s story is a mere example at the effect Planned Parenthood can have. She was able to take her knowledge and experience and turn it into a career. Planned Parenthood has been a staple in services and education for over 100 years now and continues to be a welcoming, safe environment for women, specifically young adults and college students.
"Reasons" For Defunding
Despite this, many continue to support defunding of Planned Parenthood due to the inability to look past personal opinion as well as being under the impression that tax-dollars are being used to fund a procedure that they fundamentally do not support.
“Let’s be clear: Federal funds already do not pay for abortions,” said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, in regard to Trump’s most recent proposal. “Offering money to Planned Parenthood to abandon our patients and values is not a deal we will ever accept. Providing critical health care services for millions of American women is nonnegotiable.”
Planned Parenthood receives around $500 million annually through federal funding, which comes from preventive care reimbursements through Medicaid and Title X programs. National Public Radio reports that Title X does not allow federal funds to be used for pregnancy terminations, however the only instance in which Medicaid reimbursements can be used is when the woman is a victim of rape, incest or the pregnancy will result in the woman’s death.
A Woman's Choice
With federal funding in jeopardy, I believe it's essential for society to put opinions on hold and look at the basic human right to choice. Women should have the choice to decide what should, or should not, happen with their body. Not a stranger or politician in Washington.
Personal opinion aside, the facts are that Planned Parenthood provides a sense of free health care and denying federal funding will lead to health risks, undiagnosed diseases and potential increases in unwanted pregnancies.