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The Effects of Possible Defunding of Planned Parenthood

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This essay discusses the effects of potentially defunding Planned Parenthood. Specifically this paper investigates the extent of which the defunding of Planned Parenthood in the U.S. negatively affects women’s health programs in the US and around the world. This essay examines the various issues associated with defunding Planned Parenthood, and how this impacts not only citizens of the US, but women around the in many different countries throughout Latin America and Africa. This essay argues that defunding Planned Parenthood would have drastic negative effects across the world. In order to write this essay, I looked into many different sources and many various issues about my topic. I was able to find a lot of new information that made me see the importance of Planned Parenthood in ways that I don’t think many people have looked into, so this essay makes a point to address these issues for those who may not know about them. After my research I concluded that Planned Parenthood being defunded would have a devastating impact across the world, and everything we can do to not let that happen needs to occur.

Millions of women across the US and around the world receive the healthcare that they depend on through Planned Parenthood. Without access to Planned Parenthood, and it’s services these women would struggle to find the reliable healthcare that they need. President Trump ran his campaign on many promises, including the promise to “defund” Planned Parenthood. The term “defunding” has become a popular word to use when it is actually jarringly inaccurate. Planned Parenthood does not receive a spot in the federal government’s budget, nor does it receive any “blank check” to fill out whatever funds which it deems necessary. This is the image that anti-abortion people try to get the public to see, and in many cases it works. Essentially, “the majority of federal funds come through Planned Parenthood health centers via reimbursements for the medical services that they provide to patients who either have Medicaid coverage or qualify for other publicly funded health care programs like Title X”, exactly the same as most other health insurance policies. But there have been countless attacks from all levels of the government, demanding that the federal funding of Planned Parenthood to be stopped because they claim the only reason Planned Parenthood centers are open is to provide abortion services. These attacks come from politicians that are anti-choice abortion opponents who are threatening to defund an entire healthcare provider because of the sole reason that they offer abortion and abortion services, when in reality, only a very small percentage of their services are related to abortions, and none of the federal grants that Planned Parenthood receives can legally go towards providing any abortion services. But that is not what opponents want the public to see, “In 2011, Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ) claimed in a floor speech that over abortion is ‘well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.’” The accurate statistic is less than 3%. When confronted with the facts, Kyl’s press office released a provocative statement claiming that the original statement made by Kyl was “not intended to be a factual statement, but rather to illustrate that Planned Parenthood, an organization that receives millions of dollars in taxpayer funding, does subsidize abortions.” Even though this statement was revised, it achieved its goal of making the public hear from someone in power that Planned Parenthood is a company who uses millions of taxpayer dollars to provide abortions. It is typically failed to mention that Planned Parenthood is not only a major provider of women’s healthcare here in the US, but also has reaches all across the world in poverty stricken countries to provide them with a sole woman’s healthcare provider and other assorted services that would be nonexistent without Planned Parenthood. If the federal government decides to defund Planned Parenthood, a devastating effect would follow both in the United States, and in women’s health centers across the world in their overlooked assistance to many Latin American and African countries.

As the largest provider of reproductive healthcare in the US, Planned Parenthood performs a wide array of services to people who otherwise would not be able to afford it, with nearly 80% of the companies patients at or below 150% of federal poverty level. In a recent breakdown of the services by the number that Planned Parenthood provides, it becomes evident that the centers are crucial to the health and well-being of women everywhere. Contraception accounts for around 34% of all services provided, and it is estimated that around 579,000 unintended pregnancies were avoiding due to Planned Parenthoods care in one year alone. Despite what many people think, only 3% of Planned Parenthood services are abortions, and according to CNN, nearly 80% of patients receive services to prevent unintended pregnancies. Prenatal care is also a beneficial services that 17, 419 women received in a 2014 breakdown. The largest proportion of services they account for (42%), is in the screening and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, with 4.2 million STD tests and treatments provided. Planned Parenthood also provides around 270,00 pap smears (cervical cancer screenings), and 360,000 breast exams to women per year. Planned Parenthood also is a large provider of accurate and updated sex education to over 1.5 million people per year in places where young people may not have access to reliable information or where they have been misinformed. They also offer cholesterol and diabetes testing for anyone, and can provide certain vaccinations. All of these services are crucial to the well-being of many women, and without it many women would be vulnerable. Defunding Planned Parenthood and closing their centers would also cause a disproportionate burden on poverty stricken communities since the main users of Planned Parenthood are low income individuals or in underserved communities, with Planned Parenthood centers being their only option for quality care. Low income individuals and families on Medicaid makeup half of the patients at Planned Parenthood. “In addition, more than half of Planned Parenthood health centers are in rural or medically underserved areas. These are communities where there are not enough providers to adequately serve the community’s needs and where lower-income consumers often struggle to find a health care provider they can afford. In these areas, Planned Parenthood is on the front lines, helping ensure that patients have timely access to care.” 

Although Planned Parenthood is thoroughly developed and utilized in the United States, there are countless organizations that Planned Parenthood extends their services to beyond the reach of the US. Countries in Latin America; Ecuador, Guatemala, Mexico, and in parts of Africa; Kenya, Nigeria, Nicaragua, Burkina Faso, Sengal, and Uganda, have small grassroot organizations that are partnered with Planned Parenthood to help advance the healthcare and rights of the underprivileged. Although Planned Parenthood centers are not located outside of the US, they have strong partnerships and provide many necessary resources, information, and unwavering support. They “help grassroots organizations develop solid reproductive health programs, identify other sources of funding, build their communications and advocacy skills, and develop strategic plans.”, to places where over 200 million people lack accessibility to family planning options. Like in the US, Planned Parenthood allies across the world provide reliable sex education to tens of thousands of men, women, and young adults. In Uganda, for example, Planned Parenthood partners are working to fight the recent ban on comprehensive sex education. They are also working to increase access to long term birth control options such as IUDs and safe abortion care that is within the law. In 2006, Nicaragua enacted a complete abortion ban. This means that it is illegal even in cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother and/ or child is at risk. In addition to this, access to reproductive healthcare Nicaragua, Uganda, Guatemala, and Sengal is rarely available, and Planned Parenthood Global is helping to make changes in that. Lack of healthcare and rights of women in countries like these that Planned Parenthood aids accounts for pregnancy being a leading cause of death for adolescent girls worldwide, “nearly 70,000 (adolescent girls) die every year from complications related to pregnancy and childbirth.” 

Apart from providing essential healthcare to people in these areas and in the US, Planned Parenthood is also a front fighter for women’s rights in aspects other than healthcare. In Senegal, for example, Planned Parenthood Global allies are leading the fight for women’s social and political equality. In this country women are still viewed as inferior to men and are not regarded the same as their male counterparts. Apart from being forced out of school and into early forced marriages causing issues with unsafe and unwanted teen pregnancy, females in Senegal are also not allowed to take part in the political process. Planned Parenthood is fighting to further advance these basic humans’ rights in places where the people are so oppressed that they would never be able to gain their rights on their own.

Essentially, the federal money that Planned Parenthood receives comes only in the form of reimbursements from Medicaid programs for all of the services that they provide other than abortion. “Because the Hyde Amendment already prevents any federal dollars from going toward abortion procedures, these reimbursements are strictly for preventative services such as birth control, cancer screenings, and annual exams”. “Defunding” would thus cause clinics to be forced to close or dramatically increase the price of their services, which most patients wouldn’t be able to afford since the majority of Planned Parenthood patients are far below the federal poverty level. This would also cause the closing of Planned Parenthood to disproportionately affect low income women who are already struggling to keep up with their healthcare. If they can’t afford proper tests, screening, birth control, and other services, there would also be a high increase in the number of unexpected pregnancies and STDs for vulnerable women. An interesting point to consider is that 45% of births in America are covered by Medicaid (Holter), and more births inevitably means more Medicaid costs, causing an increase in federal funds. There would also be a drastic increase in the number of STDs and STIs, possibly causing another serious STD outbreak, “When Vice President-Elect Mike Pence slashed Planned Parenthood funding as governor of Indiana, it shut down the only HIV testing center in rural Scott County. The Planned Parenthood in the county didn’t even offer abortion services, but was still shut down amid the defunding campaign.” an HIV epidemic took over the county and public health emergency was declared. Situations such as these have occurred in other places as well, but it was particularly noteworthy that this healthcare center was shut down because of anti-abortion protests to Planned Parenthood while the center did not even offer those types of services. A commonly talked about “solution” for the patients of Planned Parenthood is for all of their patients to be transferred to a Federally Qualified Health Center, or FQHC for short. But there are a countless number of major flaws in this plan. One main problem is that there often aren’t any FQHCs in a lot of the underserved communities that Planned Parenthood operates in, so those women quite literally wouldn’t have anywhere to go. And although the number of FQHCs do outnumber the current number of Planned Parenthood centers, a number of FQHCs don’t offer contraceptive care at all, and many others only serve less than ten contraceptive care clients in a year. This would create a dramatic stress on current FQHCs to double or even triple their caseload in order to keep up with former Planned Parenthood patients. It is being overlooked that many FQHCs don’t offer contraception and contraceptive care, which is the majority of Planned Parenthood’s services. When pressuring FQHCs to deal with Planned Parenthood patients there would most likely be an overwhelming stress on the health centers that would cause more harm than good in terms of government funding.

A large part of what Planned Parenthood does for countries across the world is helping other startup organizations fight for the rights of their people. Without a strong widely-known leader such as Planned Parenthood, these organizations would have very little guidance in terms of fighting for what they need. An example of this is in Senegal, where women are acceptably viewed as inferior to men, and they are given none of the same treatment. Planned Parenthood in this country help work to provide any forms of female health care, but equally importantly, they fight to advance the rights of women and girls in the country in other aspects such as the political process and access to education. In countries like these, it is nearly impossible for women to stand up to have their voices heard. Planned Parenthood supporting and guiding the organizations in Senegal and in similar countries are helping to advance not only women’s healthcare rights, but also basic human rights in places that would otherwise not have any way for women to act out. Essentially, if Planned Parenthood gets defunded and ceases to exist, there will be no one to fill their place in these struggling countries. The FQHCs that are the so called “plan” for all of the issues that Planned Parenthood works on on a daily basis, does not account for and will not step in to continue aiding these women, because that is not what they are meant to do. Defunding Planned Parenthood therefore, would have the effect of possibly letting the human rights of women in many Central American and African countries fall into a downward path of regression, letting all the hard work that these people have tried to create go to waste.

Although Planned Parenthood has not been federally “defunded”, we have got to see a miniscule amount of the potential damage that defunding could have because of circumstances where Planned Parenthood resources were partially limited. The devastating effects were seen in 2013, when Texas cut out funding for Planned Parenthood healthcare centers. “Researchers studying the impact found a 35 percent drop in women using long-acting contraception and a 27 percent rise in births among women who had previously used injectable contraception.” (Defunding of Planned Parenthood Would Leave Thousands of Women Without Care). That is an enormous change in percentages for these factors, and these led to a cascade of irreversible outcomes such as unplanned births and undiagnosed STIs. Other research studies from this and similar instances have pointed to having lack of access to and getting breast exams and pap smears. When you take away a woman’s ability to be able to be screened for breast and cervical cancer easily and with the professionals that she feels comfortable with, that is crossing a line that everyone, including those who are anti-abortion, should be able to see clearly. When you defund Planned Parenthood it is guaranteed that a number of women will lose access to and go without life-saving cancer screenings, and that should not be tolerated.

Defunding Planned Parenthood should not be about a personal opposition to abortion. Planned Parenthood is about much more than that, it is about making healthcare for women accessible, affordable, and compassionate. They have healthcare centers in the US that offer a variety of services to women including contraceptive care, cancer screenings, and STD testing and treatment. They also work with grassroot organizations in struggling countries to assist them in providing healthcare as well as much needed support. The argument of people who support defunding point out that FQHCs would assume Planned Parenthoods clients, but this plan is very flawed. Planned Parenthood caters to their clients’ needs, specifically to those in very rural areas where there are no FQHCs in a reasonable vicinity to them. Many FQHCs also do not offer contraception care which accounts for a large portion of what Planned Parenthood does. Not to mention the impact that defunding would have on the struggling nations that Planned Parenthood works with. Without their help, they will have no one to step up and support them in their most vulnerable state. When Planned Parenthood was limited in past instances, chaos and problems occured, so the devastation that will occur already has had a preview to it. When Planned Parenthood was limited previously mass STD outbreaks have occured, birth rates have risen, and widespread lack of availability of contraception has occurred. If Planned Parenthood is eliminated entirely, the consequences will be much more severe. Defunding Planned Parenthood would have a very substantial impact here in the US, and around the world. For this reason it is important that we fight to ensure that women have the reliable access to affordable healthcare that they have worked for and deserve. 

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