Safeguarding women’s health

May 2, 2011

Imagine you are a young mother living paycheck to paycheck, with no health insurance. Where would you go for a pregnancy test? For treatment of a sexually transmitted disease? To obtain contraceptives? In each case, the answer for millions of Americans is Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood is also where many women go for abortions. That is ostensibly why the organization was under attack by Republicans during negotiations over the 2011 budget. The House of Representatives voted to strip the organization of federal funding, though the bill was defeated in the Senate.

Since Planned Parenthood was already barred by law from using federal money for abortions, it was clear that what really irked opponents was the very existence of an organization like Planned Parenthood. Critics resorted to wild exaggeration. "Ninety percent of what Planned Parenthood does is provide abortions," said Senator John Kyl (R., Ariz.), a claim so inaccurate that his staff was forced to say that it was "not intended to be a factual statement." In reality, about 3 percent of Planned Parenthood's budget goes to providing abortions. Most of the care it provides is preventive—pap smears, breast exams, family planning and a range of other services, all at fees significantly reduced to be affordable for those with low incomes.

The attack on Planned Parenthood is part of a broader assault on the sexual health of low-income women, evident in the House's vote to eliminate funding for Title X, the federal program that since 1970 has provided low-income women with birth control, cancer screenings and testing for HIV and other STDs. In signing the bill into law, President Nixon stated what until recently was an uncontroversial, bipartisan conviction: "No American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition."

If the goal is indeed to reduce the number of abortions, then it is absurd to defund programs like Title X that help reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. The Guttmacher Institute, a leading authority on reproductive health, estimates that in 2008 Title X–supported family planning centers "helped women and couples avoid 973,000 unintended pregnancies, which would have resulted in 433,000 unplanned births and 406,000 abortions." If they were truly serious about reducing abortions, legislators would be calling for increasing the Title X budget, not cutting it.

It is also absurd to attack women's health programs under the banner of fiscal austerity. The money involved is negligible, but if saving money is the issue, the numbers line up on the side of supporting Title X. According to Guttmacher, by helping women avoid unintended pregnancies, Title X–supported centers saved taxpayers almost $4 for every $1 spent on contraceptive care.

Anyone who cares about women's health, fiscal responsibility and reducing abortions will support Title X and programs like Planned Parenthood.


If the money is "negligible," then what's the big deal?

Why decry the defunding if the money is not really very much?  Perhaps YOU have a political agenda.  If you are truly interested in the reproductive health of low income women then fight to make abortions performed by Planned Parenthood illegal across the board, then you would not see opposition to funding. 

The old argument that "Planned Parenthood was already barred by law from using federal money for abortions" is disingenuous.  This just involves accounting gymnastics.  If money goes to an abortion provider then that money is either directly or indirectly going to support abortion. 

People like John Kyl are not opposed to improving reproductive health for poor women, they are concerned about taxpayer funded abortion.  Stop the nonsense.


Of course there's a political agenda, it is an advocacy piece. The agenda is that women deserve more than the short end of the stick.
Christianity isn't an excuse for simplistic thinking, it's a call to seeing through the political manipulation. Like the republican party trying to score points with the right by creating the myth that Planned Parenthood is the one stop for abortions.As someone who has trouble with abortion I don't get the attacks on planned parenthood. The services they provide are needed. Specifically by helping women get contraception aren't they reducing the need for abortion? Shouldn't that appeal to you?
Also isn't quality of life important too? Don't poor women have the right to affordable care? Especially to life savings screenings?
Jesus says we are supposed to take of each other, i think pap smears count.

Simplistic thinking? You should know...

Read the previous comment and try THINKING about it.  Is there politics in politics?  You betcha.  And you demonstrate it by claiming that people like John Kyl want to give women the short end of the stick.  That's ignorant.  When a supremely honorable man like John Kyl is unfairly criticized then any fair-minded person, regardless of their ideological bent, should object.  Remove abortion--which you say you have a problem with--from the picture and you will not get these objections to funding from people like Kyl.

The "supremely honorable John Kyl"

How is it that a person can be "supremely honorable" in your book and still so grossly misstate something like the portion of Planned Parenthood services devoted to providing safe abortions to which he is opposed? Something's clearly wrong with your value system, not to mention Sen. Kyl's.

One inaccuracy doesn't equate to a flawed value system

Kyl corrected his statement.  His point was that Planned Parenthood is much more involved in abortion than it lets on.  Safe abortions?  Smuggling underage girls, without parental consent, into abortion clinics is, in your book, "safe?"


What is the $ amount of that 3 percent? Is it enough to provide food, shelter, clothing, healthcare, education, etc. etc. to the 406,000 babies born instead being aborted? Are senator Kyl and those who agree with him ready to take care of those children? And what about the mothers? If abortions are 3 percent of what Planned Parenthood does, how about we
just cut 3 percent of its funding instead of trying to de-fund it completely?

Disingenuous accounting

If Planned Parenthood discontinued providing abortions and used the money saved to provide contraception, STD screenings and treatment, etc., how many more poor women would be helped?  Statistics show that most conservative Christians DO, in fact, contribute a greater share of their personal income, time and other resources to help with adoptions and other ways of assisting children AFTER they are born.  The old, tired line that such folks are only concerned with babies before they are born is just another liberal myth. 

Your accounting ideology

Anonymous, I wish you would do a little research into exactly what services and how long those services are provided by Christian organizations. Do you really think those children and their families only need help for 30 days? Step out of your little box and take a good look around. Religious organizations make a lot of promises to scared women struggling with their choice. Your ignorance screams loud and clear when you spew flat out lies. Underage children are not smuggled into clinics. You have put yourself with every right wing, Christian zealot who perpetuates lies and myths. It is very easy for you to hide behind your computer and judge others. You should volunteer at a Planned Parenthood. That time spent will do more to cut down on unintended pregnancies and abortion than the time you spend attacking women on the internet.

Not judging, just stating facts

There are several documented instances of Planned Parenthood arranging abortions on underage girls. You can angrily call people names who try to point out facts...but it doesn't change the facts.

Interesting perspective from a syndicated columnist

Planned Parenthood: So Accustomed to Lies
By Mona Charen

4/1/2011 Perhaps you've seen the commercials touting the life-saving benefits of Planned Parenthood. They're very professional, very persuasive, and clearly very expensive. Viewers might wonder why, if Planned Parenthood can afford this multimillion-dollar image advertising, it would be devastated by the loss of about $300 million in taxpayer support?

That Planned Parenthood is spooked by Republican efforts to withdraw funding is obvious -- though they have additional reasons to fret about their image just now. Over the course of the past few months, they've been stung by a group calling itself Live Action. In one case, a man and a woman posing as a pimp and a prostitute (yes, shades of the ACORN prank) visited a Planned Parenthood clinic in Perth Amboy, N.J. There, a Planned Parenthood manager coached the couple in how to obtain birth control, HIV tests, and abortions for prostitutes she was told were 14 and 15 years old. The manager was fired, but not before real damage was done to Planned Parenthood's reputation.

As part of the rehabilitation effort, Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards appeared on Joy Behar's show. The Behar show is not on Fox, so of course, it's unbiased and impartial. Here's a sample of Behar's questioning of Richards about efforts to rescind federal funding: "It's illogical what they're doing. Because if you are not going to help people with birth control, you're going to have more abortions. Don't they think of that? So besides being evil and immoral and unethical, they're also stupid!"

In the course of her response, Richards inadvertently gave Live Action more ammunition. "What's going to happen," Richards told Behar, "if this bill ever becomes law, millions of women in this country are going to lose their health care access -- not to abortion services -- to basic family planning, you know, mammograms, cancer screenings, cervical cancer..."

Live Action phoned 30 Planned Parenthood clinics in 27 states. They spoke to clinics in Indianapolis, St. Louis, Atlanta, Lincoln, Washington, D.C., and many other cities. The responses were uniform. Not a single Planned Parenthood clinic that Live Action phoned performed mammograms. "We're mostly a surgical facility" one receptionist explained.

Richards's comments were also highly misleading in another way. As Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., who authored the legislation, pointed out, the bill "does not reduce funding for cancer screenings or eliminate one dime of funding for other important health services to women; the money that does not go to Planned Parenthood as a result of the Pence Amendment will go to other organizations that provide these services."

Planned Parenthood does perform breast exams, which are a form (though, according to the latest research, a dubious one) of cancer screening. And the clinics do provide Pap smears, which screen for cervical cancer. So why did Richards feel the need to lie about the mammograms?

Perhaps because supporters of abortion have always had a difficult relationship with the truth. When debate first erupted about partial-birth abortion, the industry at first claimed that there was no such procedure. Forced to retreat from that lie, they claimed that the procedure was exceedingly rare. When that line was exposed as false, they insisted that it was only performed to save the lives of pregnant women or in the case of severe fetal abnormality. That wasn't true either.

Behar speaks for many when she smears abortion opponents as "evil, immoral, unethical, and stupid." Now there's a moral inversion of the first order: those who justify killing a developing child because his or her life poses a temporary inconvenience waxing indignant and morally outraged at those who oppose such a gruesome act.

When she visited the United States near the end of the 20th century, Mother Teresa pleaded with Americans to reject abortion as "violence." And so it is. Behar and most members of Planned Parenthood probably think of themselves as non-violent types. They've probably never fired a gun, and they probably oppose most wars. If asked to kill a baby robin in its nest, they'd probably recoil with horror.

Think about that.

Wonderful article..Planned

Wonderful article..Planned Parenthood is the nation’s number-one abortion provider, having received in 2011 (the latest year with available data) a record $542 million in tax dollars under the policies of the Obama administration. Planned Parenthood has also been caught helping arrange abortions for sex traffickers for the girls they victimize.