Opinion: Why defunding Planned Parenthood must not happen

Madison Newingham

Time and again, we have heard conservatives argue for the defunding of Planned Parenthood with various explanations to hide the real reason in doing so. Republicans want to attack abortion rights and have found the easiest method in doing just that.

This proxy war on abortion targets a woman’s constitutional right to determine the course of her future and infringes upon a woman’s self-autonomy. As determined under Roe v. Wade, women have the legal right to obtain abortions, as it is a personal and private decision.

While Planned Parenthood proudly offers abortions, as of 2014, abortion only comprised 3 percent of its services, according to Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The majority of services provided include basic health care at a more affordable cost and greater accessibility to women, men and families nationwide.

Many disregard the fact that Planned Parenthood offers cancer screenings, pap smears, prostate exams, HIV/STD testing and much more. Defunding Planned Parenthood will adversely affect nearly five million people across the country.

If abortion is the problem, pro-life advocates should focus their attention to the actual issue. Planned Parenthood is not the problem, but rather the solution.

Planned Parenthood offers proper and comprehensive sex education to low income areas, as well as condoms, birth control of all kinds and advice to avoid unwanted pregnancy. If defunded, Planned Parenthood will have to scale back its efforts to prevent abortions in the first place.

This means clinics will close, and women will have to travel burdensome distances for health care services. The organization will no longer have the capacity to provide sex education and contraceptives in its current capacity, nor will it have the ability to provide more affordable pricing, especially to low-income and largely non-white communities.

If the pro-life movement really wants to decrease the frequency of abortions, defunding an organization that provides safe services is not the most effective way to do so. According to Planned Parenthood, the estimated number of unwanted pregnancies averted each year is around 515,000.

Now more than ever, Planned Parenthood is at an extreme risk of losing federal funds. Some constituents do not want their tax dollars to pay for abortions, but this misconception hinders the uncontroversial and universally supported services it provides.

Due to the Hyde Amendment, no federal funds are allocated to the funding of abortion with the exceptions of rape, incest and life of the mother. Thus, they already do not.

Vice President Mike Pence defunded Planned Parenthood within his home state of Indiana, and the extensive repercussions suggest this effect will occur nationally.

Immediately following this action in 2013, Indiana has seen an explosive HIV outbreak. As the Scott County’s sole HIV testing provider, residents could no longer access this service; thus, the rise of preventable diseases increased.

According to NPR, Indiana holds a high smoking rate, obesity rate and infant mortality. With this HIV epidemic in mind, to use the state of Indiana’s wording, and the poor health of many of Indiana’s residents, Pence still deliberately cut Indiana’s budget for public health care programs.

Defunding Planned Parenthood is ultimately anti-life and at the expense of the working class and women – to be specific, poor women of color. We cannot regress by defunding such a vital organization, which provides compassionate and affordable care.

If we see the Republican administration and conservative chambers of Congress defund Planned Parenthood, we can definitely say the government is attacking women’s rights and the fundamental right to health care. This government will show that it is not a government of the people.  

Abortions will occur with or without its legalization; however, under Roe, women can pursue safe and legal abortions. We cannot relapse to pre-Roe times, endangering the lives of women all over the country because conservative legislators, mostly white and lacking uteri, want to enact body restrictive policies. It is precisely anti-life to support the regression at this time in history.

Madison Newingham is a columnist, contact her at [email protected].