Defunding Planned Parenthood is not a solution to the abortion debate

Laurel Thompson

Since its founding in Brooklyn, New York in 1916, Planned Parenthood has long been a popular topic for ethical, religious and political debate.

As a faulty product of these ongoing conflicts of opinion and belief, it seems the reproductive health care center has somehow become synonymous with abortion. In recent months, especially, the debate has escalated to involve federal defunding of the facility based on ill-informed presumptions that not only is Planned Parenthood primarily an abortion clinic, but it also sells aborted baby parts, among other creative fallacies. As a controversial matter blown out of proportion with no end in sight, defunding Planned Parenthood is not a productive solution to the abortion debate.

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At this point, I find it necessary to say that this column is not meant to address whether or not I think abortion is wrong, but rather to criticize the government’s recent debates and attempts to “freeze” its funding of Planned Parenthood.

First of all — and I am assuming many people know this by now because it is a statistic so commonly used — three percent of the services Planned Parenthood performs are abortions. The other 97 percent include basic gynecological services, STD testing, methods of contraception, family planning and emergency precautions like the morning after pill. For these reasons, it is especially hard to understand the logic behind campaigns to defund Planned Parenthood, given the fact that most of the funds go toward pregnancy prevention so that abortion is less of a reality for sexually active people.

Therefore, to deprive a health care center of the funding needed to provide its clients with these protective services on the sole basis of controversy surrounding a mere three percent of services shows not only a general disregard for its benefits, but a lack of information altogether. Cutting federal funding of Planned Parenthood would not only affect the facility’s ability to perform abortions, but it would be even more detrimental to the other 97 percent of its services.

The second issue I have with defunding Planned Parenthood is the supporters’ willingness to encroach upon women’s rights to make decisions about their bodies. Like the previous statistic, I am aware this reasoning of ethics and human rights is commonly used in the pro-choice argument on abortion. On the financial side, however, cutting the facility’s funding prevents the health care provider from having the ability to educate and supply its clients, thus indirectly preventing women from having access to the technology and resources to manage their reproductive health. Whereas previous attempts to outlaw abortion have created legal barriers between women and their bodies, the discussion of defunding Planned Parenthood creates a financial barrier between women and their ability to access the resources needed to make educated decisions about their bodies. 

Not only does the discussion of defunding Planned Parenthood aim to deprive women of their reproductive rights, it specifically targets lower-class women by preventing their access to one of the most affordable reproductive health-care clinics in America. Eligible clients of Planned Parenthood are covered under the Affordable Health Care Act to ensure their access to services that would otherwise be unaffordable to those struggling just to put food on their tables. Through bridging the gap between those in need and their right to basic sexual health care by means of affordable STD testing, education, family planning and contraception, Planned Parenthood prevents a great deal of unwanted pregnancy that would otherwise deepen their state of poverty. Therefore, defunding Planned Parenthood would not only rob the lower class of perhaps their only source of health care, but it would drag more and more people into poverty in the process.

The federal discussion of defunding Planned Parenthood needs to be over. It is simply irrelevant to the abortion debate and would actually cause more unwanted pregnancies and untreated STDs than there already are. With this in mind, I would encourage CSU students to continue getting tested regularly and remain educated about Planned Parenthood’s mission, despite the controversy, politics and fallacious media coverage. 

Collegian Columnist Laurel Thompson can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @laurelanne1996.