An all-out attack on Planned Parenthood has begun. Yesterday Bobby Jindal, governor of Louisiana, cut all Medicaid funding to Planned Parenthood reasoning, “Planned Parenthood does not represent the values of the people of Louisiana and shows a fundamental disrespect for human life. It has become clear that this is not an organization that is worthy of receiving public assistance from the state.” Jeb Bush also followed suit on the campaign trail remarking, “I’m not sure we need a half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.” Scott Walker even boasted, “We defunded Planned Parenthood long before these videos came out.” To the emotional pro-life observer these comments are met with warm acceptance and a thunderous applause. The problem with the demonization of Planned Parenthood is such arguments are built on blatant lies fueled by ignorance. Although such attacks are designed to end the practice of abortion and rally the voting base, the real victims are the millions of women who use Planned Parenthood for preventative healthcare and family planning.
Lie #1: Planned Parenthood is solely funded by the Government. FACT: Planned Parenthood only receives about 1/3 of its funding, roughly $500 million, from Medicaid payments. The $500 million is applied in the same manner Medicaid is used by all doctors’ offices across the country, for routine check-ups and preventative healthcare. Given the low operating costs of Planned Parenthood and current geography, their reach is significant across all demographics of women providing a benefit to our Healthcare system. Also, no tax dollars can be used for abortions by law. Several GOP candidates are on record stating this false claim over the past several days.
Lie #2: Planned Parenthood is primarily an abortion facility. Fact: Only three percent of all Planned Parenthood health services are abortion related. The vast majority of Planned Parenthood activities focus on prevention as 80 percent of clients receive services on preventing unintended pregnancy. In fact, Planned Parenthood services helps prevent approximately 516,000 unintended pregnancies each year. Planned Parenthood provides nearly 400,000 Pap tests and nearly 500,000 breast exams each year, critical services in detecting cancer. Planned Parenthood also provides 4.5 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including 700,000 HIV tests.
Lie #3: Planned Parenthood is breaking the law. Fact: A law was passed in 1993 with overwhelming bi-partisan support allowing aborted fetuses to be donated (also allowing collecting fees to cover donation costs). The bill passed the Senate 93-4 with current Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell signing his name supporting the law. Donating fetal tissue from abortion clinics has been occurring for over 20 years even though many Americans are now discovering the practice.
Lie #4: Stopping Planned Parenthood will stop the transferring of fetal tissue from abortions. Fact: Shutting down Planned Parenthood will not stop this practice. Currently Republicans are using everything in their power to block funding to Planned Parenthood which is completely disingenuous. With Republicans controlling both chambers of the legislative branch they could push through legislation banning fetal tissue donations tomorrow. But such legislation is problematic for their party as campaigns are funded by pharmaceutical companies that need fetal tissue for vaccination research, stem cell discoveries, and general health. The Pharmaceutical industry spends roughly a quarter billion in annual lobbying efforts to influence such legislation. Pharma companies gave 30 million in campaign donations in both 2012 and 2014 primarily to Republicans. In fact, Mitch McConnell received over $350,000 from the pharma industry for his recent campaign, the most of any politician.
I understand the emotional outrage around fetal donations. The practice is abhorrent at first glance, and the manner in which Planned Parenthood representatives conducted themselves in the various videos should lead to disciplinary action. With that being said I also find the pattern of deceit and misleading propaganda by Planned Parenthood opponents as cause for concern. If the desired end game is to stop all abortions, shutting down Planned Parenthood is the wrong course of action given their significant work around family planning. The abortion rate has been cut in half over the past 30 years driven by access to contraceptives and education which Planned Parenthood is the leader in providing. I know Republicans are eager to jump on the “defund Planned Parenthood” bandwagon, but any negative action regarding tax-payer funding will only contradict their pro-life cause and make a bad situation even worse.