Should Planned Parenthood be Defunded?

Brian Cieplicki ’19 investigates this controversial organization and asses the potential effects of defunding it.

On July 14 of this year, an anti-abortion organization known as “The Center for Medical Progress” released a controversial video exposing Planned Parenthood’s practice of selling fetal tissue obtained from abortions. Immediately, pro-life Republicans across the country took their chance to strike at Planned Parenthood, resulting in an attack to cut federal funding from the organization. This effort has remained a prominent topic in the ensuing GOP primary race and, one by one, the Republican candidates have discussed how essential it is that Planned Parenthood, a criminal and inhumane organization, be defunded.

Do they have a point?

To answer this question, it is important to understand exactly what Planned Parenthood is. Many Americans associate Planned Parenthood with abortions, as it is the largest abortion provider in the country. According to a recent article published by NPR, in 2014 abortions accounted for only 3% of the services provided by Planned Parenthood. That same article shows that the vast majority of Planned Parenthood’s services are providing contraception, various treatments, and screenings for STDs and STIs. Other services provided by Planned Parenthood include cancer screenings, as well as a myriad of general women’s health services.

It is also important to note that Planned Parenthood barely uses its money from the government to pay for abortions. A common argument against Planned Parenthood is that it is not right to spend taxpayer dollars to fund abortions. The reality is, the money provided by the federal government is only used to fund abortions under circumstances such as rape, incest, or to save the mother’s life.

But what about the practice of profiting from fetal body parts preserved from abortions? How can the government support such an inhumane, illegal practice? An article published by the Annenberg Public Policy Center states that Planned Parenthood only donates fetal tissue if they are granted permission from the mother. The article also states that Planned Parenthood does not profit financially in any way from this practice and operates fully within the law; furthermore, they provide fetal tissue recovered from these abortions, which is extremely useful in research that contributes to curing a number of medical conditions.
So what would defunding Planned Parenthood really do? This would potentially lead to a decrease in the accessibility of Planned Parenthood’s services for low-income families. However, it is important to note that this action would only cut federal funding and States would maintain the ability to spend money to help people use Planned Parenthood’s services. Having said that, according to an article published by NPR,  these services would likely become more expensive as a result of cutting federal funding. Defunding Planned Parenthood would do nothing but hurt an organization that is providing invaluable services for millions of Americans each year.

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