Is Planned Parenthood “Big Abortion” or women’s health care? Both characterizations are sharing time in the media, but only one of them is true.
While Planned Parenthood does perform some abortions, it makes up only 3 percent of the work done at the 700 clinics and centers across the nation.
This dedication to provide women with access to a controversial yet legal medical procedure has earned Planned Parenthood a big old bull’s eye from the conservative right — a group of hardliners that recently threatened to shut down the government if Congress brought forth a budget that includes funds for Planned Parenthood.
Congress has until Oct.1 to pass a budget before the government runs out of money. Due to the Advocate’s production schedule I am writing this on Sept. 28 and at this time I am hopeful the futility of the shutdown — the Senate and President Obama have no interest in defunding Planned Parenthood — will have persuaded the 241 House members who voted to strip money from the women’s health provider to step back from the brink and do what’s right for the nation.
Planned Parenthood has been under attack just about since it was launched in the 70s. Many of the women’s health clinics do provide abortion services, but that’s far from the only thing Planned Parenthood does.
The U.S. government provides about 41 percent of Planned Parenthood’s operating revenue, much in the form of Medicare reimbursements. If the government were to pull its $528 million in annual support of the health centers, there would be 40 percent less money for the following:
∎ 378,692 Pap smears
∎ 487,029 Breast exams
∎ 69,852 Cancer screenings (other)
∎ 704,079 HIV tests
∎ 3.7 million STD screenings
∎ 18,684 individuals getting prenatal care
∎ 3.6 million people obtaining contraception
∎ and yes, 327,600 abortions
People willing to sacrifice the health of other people and the stability of the nation over the abortion of 14-gram cell-sacks — the size of a pre-fetus when it is terminated at 8 weeks, when the bulk of abortions occur — are zealots driven by easily debunked propaganda.
For example, opponents of Planned Parenthood will often claim that the abortions the centers provide make up nearly all — 96 percent — of “pregnancy services” provided annually. This trash heap disguised as a statistic was derived by the Susan B. Anthony List, a right-wing font of misogynistic data points. To arrive at this number the folks at SBA added up the number of abortions provided, adoptions referrals and prenatal care and of those three things, yes, abortion does make up the lion’s share. But these three things are not the entirety of Planned Parenthood’s pregnancy services. Planned Parenthood counts pregnancy services as anything that helps women and men make decisions about family planning, which includes education, contraception, and regular gynecologic care. If you throw all that together, you come with the more accurate statistic of abortions accounting for 3 percent of the work.
There’s also videos making the rounds purporting to prove that Planned Parenthood is harvesting the tissues and limbs of murdered babies and selling them on the black market to make lots of money. That is a cynical distortion of reality. Abortion isn’t the murder of a baby; it is a medical procedure that stops a bunch of cells (it’s a fertilized egg until week eight when it becomes a fetus) from growing. Once an abortion is performed, there is sometimes tissue that can be used in medical tests and procedures. That tissue should be used to help people. After obtaining written consent from women about to undergo abortions, Planned Parenthood donates the tissues, collecting only enough money to cover costs. It is illegal to sell human tissues in the U.S.
People bent on destroying Planned Parenthood are putting their own stubborn ignorance above the good of the nation. But there is something we can all do to fight back against this assault on women’s health: Stand With Planned Parenthood. Go to standwithplannedparenthood.org to find template letters to Congress, information about activist action in your neck of the woods, and find support.
Planned Parenthood needs your support. Restricting access to abortion hurts women. If the Right were truly interested in reducing abortions it would help families tackle the obstacles that lead women to abort: unemployment or jobs that pay too little to support a child, inability to take time off school or work and a lack of affordable day care.
With all the sexual assault befalling women in this country, the wage gap, inflexible work schedules, and expensive child care, it is unconscionable that the country’s response to an unwanted pregnancy would be to restrict access to legal medical procedures. #IStandWithPP.•
Contact Kristin Palpini at firstname.lastname@example.org.