Brooke Frenkel / Contributing Writer
Regardless of your stance on abortion, Planned Parenthood isn’t the thing you should be scrutinizing.
Across the country, pro-life activists and lawmakers are rallying to cut government funding of the non-profit organization, Planned Parenthood. With over 700 health centers, the organization provides services to 2.7 million patients annually. Beyond providing medical services, Planned Parenthood offers educational resources so that teenagers and women can make informed choices about life changing decisions such as birth control, abortion and emergency contraceptives.
While most of the American population equates PP with abortions, abortions only comprise three percent of its annual services. Moreover, the organization provides 77 percent of its services to women who need contraceptives and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and infections.
The government funds the organization through two programs: Medicaid and Title X. Medicaid is a health care program that helps lower-income U.S. citizens, while Title X is a family-planning program aimed toward the same demographic. Since 2011, six states have attempted to defund Planned Parenthood. Earlier this month, three states slashed funds for the organization while others threatened to cut its funding from Medicaid (which is federally illegal).
According to the March Government Accountability Office report, 79 percent of the individuals who went to Planned Parenthood in 2014 had incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty line. With Planned Parenthood providing 97 percent of its annual services on women’s health services and only three percent to abortions, cutting its government funds on the premise of eliminating abortion is senseless.
Let’s take a look at Texas, a state where its conservative views have drastically impacted women in the state. In 2011, Texas began cutting funding to Planned Parenthood. At this time, Planned Parenthood served between half and four-fifths of the Women’s Health Program, meaning the state would have to double, if not quintuple, their women’s health care capacity in order to absorb all of the Planned Parenthood patients. With less affordable care available, many women simply won’t seek medical attention.
Furthermore, with the lack of insurance and inability to obtain prescriptions, researchers are projecting nearly “24,000 unplanned births between 2014 and 2015.” These births will cost state and federal taxpayers to pay $273 million dollars more toward Medicaid. And because the state is receiving less federal support for women’s health programs, annual exam costs have increased enough that the 79 percent at or below the poverty line are averting check-ups.
Without the implementation of a better women’s health care system, cutting Planned Parenthood funds would be disastrous. The number of unplanned pregnancies will increase, as will the number of unidentified or untreated sexually transmitted diseases and early cancer screenings decrease – all while taxpayers’ dollars towards Medicare rise. Americans must understand all of the repercussions of defunding Planned Parenthood before trying to destroy it. Cutting Planned Parenthood funds will affect all American citizens and we must be ready for the direct and indirect implications of a drastic, uninformed decision if we continue on this path.