The Stigma is Real
2.4 million patients. 9.7 million services provided. Would it shock you to find out only a mere 3.7 percent of these services are geared towards abortion procedures?
According to the 2017 Planned Parenthood Report, 48.7 percent of services provided were STI testing and treatment, 27.1 percent were for contraception, 13.4 percent were other women’s health services, 6.3 percent cancer screenings and prevention and 1.1 percent were other services.
These numbers are not misleading. They are a raw depiction of the vast amount of services this organization provides for cancer screenings, HIV diagnoses or assistance during a crisis such as an incidence of sexual violence and the number of lives these services improve or save on a yearly basis.
Pro-Life individuals can be seen in the media outside of Planned Parenthood clinics, throwing anti-abortion flyers at car windshields and preaching that individuals who use Planned Parenthood are “murderers, evil, inhumane.” A woman living below the poverty line going in to get a breast exam that she would not have been able to get through a primary care physician is deemed as a killer for stepping foot into this clinic. Does anyone else see something wrong with that?
The truth is simple: Planned Parenthood is necessary, especially in our society today where one in every five women use Planned Parenthood as their means for receiving medical assistance.
This controversial organization has faced its fair share of hate throughout its time, but on February 22, 2019, the Trump administration finalized the new “Protect Life Rule.” This new rule bars administrations that provide abortion referrals from receiving federal family planning money. This is another step towards taking millions of dollars that fund Planned Parenthood and giving it to religious, anti-abortion groups.
Title X provides grants to family planning and reproductive health care centers that serve people who cannot afford health insurance and who, therefore, do not have access to a primary care physician. Under this new rule from the Trump administration, any organization that provides abortions or gives referrals for them is ineligible for Title X funding. This means that the money can’t cover other procedures and testings done by Planned Parenthood either. Organizations receiving money through Title X will still be able to perform abortions, but they will have to be done in a separate facility and they may not give information to patients regarding referrals for any abortion services.
Title X and health centers were created around family planning in order to reduce the need for abortions by lowering the number of unintended pregnancies. Under the Obama administration, birth rate amongst teens hit an all-time low, down more than 60 percent in the last 25 years.
Because of the change to Title X, Planned Parenthood now has a choice to make. Help an individual who has become pregnant unintentionally and allow them to own their body, or lose the funding for other services that help hundreds upon thousands of women. This is a choice no medical professional should ever have to make. Holding back information regarding how to help a person medically can be seen as ethically wrong.
Dr. Leana Wen, president of Planned Parenthood, advocated recently to NPR about the d
angers and ethical dilemmas that could arise with withholding information about abortion from Title X patients, which would violate medical ethics. "As a doctor, this compromises the oath that I took to serve my patients and help them with making the best decision for their own health," Wen said. "My patients expect me to speak honestly with them, to answer their questions, to help them in their time of need. It's unconscionable and unethical for politicians to restrict doctors like me from speaking honestly to our patients."
Will women ever truly have complete control over their bodies? When will the government, laws and policies come together to create a system where women can decide what they would like to do with their bodies? Organizations encourage abstinence to lower the number of abortions, but in many cases, abstinence is not an option. Sexual violence is an issue that is growing by the day. One in five women will be sexually abused at one point in their life, and pregnancies occurring from rape are an issue that is not seen in the media.
Planned Parenthood reaches 1.2 million people through education and outreach. This program does not only provide health services for the underfunded but provides education about women's health issues through mobile, online apps and websites. This program is truly more than just an “abortion clinic.” If people were to look past the stigma, they would see the millions of people its services have saved.