United States Senator and Women’s Rights Activist, Kamala Harris once said, “No woman should be told she can’t make decisions about her own body. When women’s rights are under attack, we fight back.” For over one hundred years, women’s health has been a controversial topic. In the past, powerful men have held the authority to decide what they deem appropriate for women in regard to their health.
Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), an organization founded by women for women in 1916, has a goal, that women should have the information and care they need to live strong, healthy lives and fulfill their dreams” (The History and Impact of Planned Parenthood.).
Today, that goal to provide such care has helped millions of men, women, and children who could not otherwise afford it. With over 600 health clinics, Planned Parenthood provides care throughout the United States and helps many people around the world (The History and Impact of Planned Parenthood.). In fact, according to the PPFA, the organization has provided more than 4.67 million sexual and reproductive health services globally and 2.84 million of these services occurred within the United States. Of the 2.84 million, 79% were received by patients at or below 150% of the poverty line (Planned Parenthood Federation of America.).
However, some forms of treatment have caused backlash. In the 1970’s, abortion rights expanded, and Planned Parenthood was one of the organizations advocating for to legally establish that right for women. This turned the continued funding of Planned Parenthood into a controversial topic that remains a topic of discussion today. There are people in the United States who would like to see Planned Parenthood disbanded by the federal government and eliminate the funding of this health organization. However, Planned Parenthood does many great things for our country and closing its doors would do more harm than good. Defunding the PPFA would increase taxes and decrease accessibility to health care services and health education for countless individuals and would severely impact areas where limited opportunities exist for those services.
There is no question that abortion is a topic which will always be controversial. Any situation dealing with life and death is bound to stir up many mixed emotions, strong feelings, and varied beliefs. Many people who oppose Planned Parenthood jump straight to the abortion issue upon hearing the organization’s name. However, this procedure is just one of hundreds of health care services offered by Planned Parenthood. According to the Planned Parenthood 2016-2017 annual report, only 3% of all medical services [they provided] were abortion services. The main services delivered were STI testing and treatment (47%) and contraception (28%) (PPFA, 2017 n.d.). Defunding an entire program, based on a disagreement with one procedure, seems extreme and uncalled for.
Planned Parenthood also provides services for contraception, STD testing, fertility testing, and pelvic exams for both men and women, along with general health care. Planned Parenthood is typically considered to be a female-specific sexual/reproductive/family planning service system (Lawrence HC, Ness DL.), however, PPFA offers a myriad of male reproductive/sexual health care options, including but not limited to treating erectile dysfunction, jock itch, infertility, premature ejaculation, prostate cancer, vasectomy procedural services, as well as TCa screening and referral services (PPFA, n.d.). PPFA also provides care for existing families, giving vaccinations for children and providing family education and support through many different situations that may occur (PPFA, n.d.).
Many of clinics are placed in areas where there is no other option for these health care needs. In addition, Planned Parenthood provides these services in a manner that makes their patients feel educated, safe, and supported. This organization is not meant to be a burden on the public, but a beneficial service to those who may not have access or cannot afford health care, otherwise. According to Lawrence and Ness, “services provided range from annual well-woman examinations to vaccinations. In a single year, Planned Parenthood health centers conduct more than 270,000 Pap tests and more than 360,000 breast examinations.” These two tests alone are crucial to women’s health and can help detect cancer at an early stage, thus saving lives.
Another concern of the opposition is the thought of raising taxes to pay for someone else’s health care. However, according to the Congretional Budgeting Office, “barring Planned Parenthood health centers from being reimbursed through Medicaid would result in a net cost of $130 million to taxpayers over 10 years, due to an increase in unintended pregnancies without the high-quality contraceptive care Planned Parenthood provides.” In fact, Planned Parenthood estimates that their health centers prevent 579,000 unintended pregnancies each year. This number includes the thousands of people receiving the distribution of oral contraceptives, IUD’s, condoms, etc.
Planned Parenthood is a necessary organization for our country.
One must think outside their own beliefs on abortion and realize, that although the organization provides the option to terminate a pregnancy, that is not close to all they do. The numerous other services that they provide and the ability to provide them to men and women at a cost that is commensurate to their income are of vital importance. Giving everyone the opportunity to receive the education and support they need for sexual, reproductive and family help is priceless. If we defund such an important organization, it will affect over 2.4 million people in our country alone (PPFA, n.d. 2017.). It is important to remember the number of lives the organization has impacted and the number of people it has helped, as we often tend to focus primarily on the negative. Planned Parenthood is if critical importance to millions and without it, many people’s health care would be lost.