Debate: Anti-Planned Parenthood

Homecoming 2015: Freedom Issue

Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization that provides reproductive and other health services to men and women. Planned Parenthood health care professionals have been dedicated to offering men, women, and teens not only high-quality, but affordable medical care since 1916 when it was founded. The majority of this care is precautionary, offering services to prevent unintended pregnancies via proper contraception, and reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections via testing and treatment. They also offer screenings for cervical and other types of cancer. However, despite the variety of services Planned Parenthood offers, they should not be funded by the government due to recent overwhelming controversy.
About a month ago, Republican presidential candidate, Jeb Bush, made an offhand remark at an event hosted by the Southern Baptist Convention claiming that Planned Parenthood should be defunded. He mentioned doing this as governor of Florida before adding, “I’m not sure we need half-a-billion dollars for women’s health issues.” This is a statement Democrats have made known, portraying Jeb Bush as someone who doesn’t care about women’s health. Although Bush has since said he misspoke, Bush’s comments raise questions about what the organization does with the large amounts of government money it receives and whether defunding Planned Parenthood would save taxpayers money.
Bush is right that Planned Parenthood receives hundreds of millions of government dollars. According to Planned Parenthood’s latest annual report, they were funded $528 million last year. That makes up more than 40% of Planned Parenthood’s $1.3 billion in revenue for the year, which suggests that the organization would be in some heavy financial trouble without that public funding.
The programs that provide this money are Medicaid, a health care program targeted at lower-income Americans, and Title X, a federal family-planning program that focuses on serving lower-income Americans. However, not all of the public funds that Planned Parenthood receives are federal spending.While Title X is a federal program, Medicaid operates using federal and state funds. Medicaid spending receives 90% federal reimbursement, so when politicians talk about “defunding” Planned Parenthood, they mean cutting off only federal money. States, however, could continue to spend as they please. Atim Kilma ’18 states, “I think that someone would want the government to defund Planned Parenthood because they think that there are many other women’s health centers that the government isn’t funding. So they don’t understand why their tax money goes to an organization that seems like they can fund themselves.”
Recent videos from the anti-abortion rights, Center for Medical Progress are bringing the “defund Planned Parenthood” discussion into the light. The group says its videos show Planned Parenthood officials discussing the sale of fetal tissue. According to Planned Parenthood’s annual report, only 3% of the services it provided last year were abortion-related. This statistic has many critics pointing out that it doesn’t explain how much of Planned Parenthood’s revenue comes from abortion. Others say that the figure counts services provided, not patients served. This means that more than 3% of patients may receive abortions. The 1977 Hyde Amendment dictated that federal Medicaid funds could only be used to fund abortions in cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother, though some states have expanded cases for which they will provide funds.
Overall, in order to end the flow of federal tax dollars to Planned Parenthood, Congress must disqualify the national organization and its affiliates from receiving grants under specific family planning programs. Both Title X grants and federal Medicaid funding could still go to the many other qualified health care providers that offer the same and additional services as Planned Parenthood, without getting caught in the controversy of abortion.