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To Fund or Not to Fund? The Debate Over Planned Parenthood

By Alex GreenPublished November 11, 2015

In the current congressional debate over Planned Parenthood, Republicans are attempting to cease federal funding for the women's health organization over the alleged leaked video. This cut in funding will have dramatic effects for citizens across the United States, and it will have immense repercussions on the availability of healthcare.

By Alex Green 11/11/2015
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    In the current congressional debate over whether or not federal funding for the women's health organization, Planned Parenthood, should continue, Republicans and Democrats have dug in at opposing stances on the issue.  In the case of the Republicans, they have called for a cease in funding for the program while the representatives on the Democratic side call for the continued support of it.  The current debate over the funding of Planned Parenthood was re-introduced at the national level after the organization was allegedly caught on tape discussing the sale of fetal tissue which, presumably, was made available to them via abortion.  This tape has led to accusations from both sides of the aisle; Democrats have claimed that the video was faked, while some on the Republican side have claimed that the alleged leaked video shows a living, fully-formed fetus on a table while Planned Parenthood workers try to keep it alive to harvest its brain.  

    With rumors flying about and fierce political polarization within Congress, it is often hard to establish which information is true and which is blatantly false.  

    So to clear any misconceptions held by either side, here are the facts:  Within the 2013-2014 fiscal year, Planned Parenthood received $528.4 million in government funds (state and federal), $305.3 million from nongovernment sources, $257.4 million coming from private benefactors, and $54.7 million in fees charged to patients.  Of the over $500 million in government funding provided to Planned Parenthood, none can be used toward abortions, although some states allow Medicare funds to be provided to the organization to subsidize abortions in cases of rape, incest, or endangerment of the life of the mother.  In terms of services provided to their patients, Planned Parenthood provides roughly 11 million services each year, of which only 3% are abortions.  The other 97% of the services provided each year include: providing contraceptives, STI/STD Testing and Treatment, Cancer Screenings, as well as many other women's health services.

    The de-funding of Planned Parenthood allows House Republicans to avoid going after abortion policies itself by instead going after the largest provider of such services.  By limiting the funding to the women's health organization, they can effectively shut down many of Planned Parenthood's locations by depriving it of over $500 million that it depends on to provide services to women across the nation.  Although Republicans believe that this will be an effective method of stopping a large number of abortions within the United States, the effects of the de-funding will be much broader and will have a large impact on those who are living in poverty.  According to Planned Parenthood, 79% of its patients have incomes that are at or below 150% of the federal poverty level.  The primary patrons of Planned Parenthood are those citizens who are unable to afford other means of medical treatment due to the high cost that accompanies it.

    With the Republicans attempting to de-fund Planned Parenthood, they are engaging in a roundabout method of ridding the nation of abortion since Planned Parenthood is a nationally-recognized provider of this service.  But one must consider the repercussions of this aggressive, unconstitutional attack on the right of women nationwide to receive abortions.  Who is going to shoulder the burden of all the new babies who are born?  Will it be forced upon the mother/family to support the baby they unintentionally created? If not the family, then should orphanages and adoption agencies be forced to take in the rising number of unwanted babies even if they are at capacity?  Should a mother be forced to keep a baby who was conceived when she was raped?

    On average, Planned Parenthood estimates that it helps prevent, between contraceptives and abortions, over 800,000 unwanted pregnancies each year.  If Planned Parenthood lost their $500 million in federal funding (roughly half of their revenue), they would have to shut down facilities across the nation which, in very modest estimation, could result in an influx of 10,000s (if not more) additional unwanted babies being born each year.  Of those babies, many of them would be born into low-income families which would be unable to financially support him/her.  Although Republicans may argue that patients of Planned Parenthood would be able to receive health services from other providers, those facilities do not have the same financial capital/infrastructure, and they would not be able to handle the influx of former Planned Parenthood patients.    

    Although the alleged video leak may or may not be real, the positive impact that Planned Parenthood has had is real, and it can be seen through their betterment of millions of Americans' lives.  Despite Planned Parenthood's profound effect on society, Republican lawmakers continue to call for a cease in funding for the organization and, in doing so, jeopardize the health and well-being of women across the nation.  If Republicans succeed in cutting Planned Parenthood's funding, other health providers will be unable to handle the influx of Planned Parenthood patients, there will be an increase in the number of unwanted babies each year, and the ability of the poorest Americans to receive health services that were once provided by Planned Parenthood will be severely limited.  Undeterred by these facts, Republicans continue to push for the cease in funding for Planned Parenthood despite the detrimental consequences it may cause.