Recently, an organization against abortion has focused its efforts towards the organization “Planned Parenthood”, which provides healthcare for women, including abortions. These efforts have resulted in the organization being widely discussed in Congress, with options thrown around on the senate floor as drastic as defunding the entire organization.
The discussion was started by an organization called the Center for Medical Progress. The organization secretly filmed videos of meetings with Planned Parenthood doctors, editing the footage to support their claim that Planned Parenthood is profiting from the sale of fetal tissue from abortions, which is illegal. The compensation given to organizations donating fetal tissue for medical research is meant to cover the general processing costs, such as storage and shipping, rather than to turn a profit. Planned Parenthood CEO, Cecile Richards, has spoken out against the allegations, saying that their compensation matches the standard for the field, but other anti-abortion groups have used this spotlight as an opportunity to pressure the organization further, attempting to get Planned Parenthood defunded altogether. A bill proposed to do just that was reviewed in Congress on Aug. 3, but failed to pass a vote.
Although Planned Parenthood provides many different services in women’s healthcare, they are being targeted specifically because they provide access to abortions. Former Senator Jon Kyl, claimed that abortion is “well over 90 percent of what Planned Parenthood does.” Abortion, however, only covers three percent of Planned Parenthood’s care, with 70 percent of their care concentrating on STD/STI testing and contraception. Blatant false facts such as this and simple misinformation is being thrown around in much of this debate, making it exceedingly difficult to have an appropriate discussion about the topic.
People advocating against Planned Parenthood’s government funding of 363 million dollars a year (as reported in 2009) are doing so because Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of abortions in the US, and many have moral issues with its practice. Due to this controversy surrounding the practice, the government has put restrictions on the funding, prohibiting it from being used to fund any abortions. The reason many are still not happy with this restriction is that the funding still supports Planned Parenthood in other ways, claiming that it indirectly supporting their practice of abortions.
Supporters of Planned Parenthood believe that the access to abortion is an important part of women’s healthcare and should be preserved, otherwise women may seek more dangerous ways to deal with unwanted pregnancy, or they believe that the other services such as cancer screening and contraception provided by Planned Parenthood are too valuable to lose by defunding it.
Understanding both sides to the argument and getting your facts right is essential to having a productive conversation about the funding of Planned Parenthood. When moral debates make their way into government legislature, the lines are bound to get blurred. The six states that investigated Planned Parenthood have come forward and said they found no evidence of the healthcare organization violating any laws, but groups against abortion are using this situation as a way to try and persuade people to be against the practice of abortion altogether. Because of this, the discussion about Planned Parenthood has had its focus shifted far from the organization itself.