Ask the Sexpert: Planned Parenthood

Every time I look at the news I see something about Planned Parenthood. I know that Planned Parenthood offers abortions, but why has it recently become part of intense debate?

Why is everyone talking about Planned Parenthood?

The Trump administration has been on a mission since its campaign to reform the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. The GOP recently put forth a health care reform bill meant to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which would have included ceasing federal funds to Planned Parenthood. Interestingly, Trump has been quoted stating that millions of women have been helped by Planned Parenthood, but he still needs to defund it due to the abortion services it offers and his “pro-life” ideology. In a response to public and political pushback, Donald Trump made an informal proposal to Planned Parenthood, suggesting that federal funds would continue -– and maybe even increase – if the organization stopped its abortion services. Dawn Laguens, Executive VP of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, swiftly and strongly responded:

 “Offering money to Planned Parenthood to abandon our patients and our values is not a deal that we will ever accept. Providing critical health care services for millions of American women is nonnegotiable.”

The GOP health care reform bill was withdrawn by leaders of the U.S. House of Representatives due to disagreement among the GOP. However, this fight is nowhere near over. In a recent deadlock vote in the Senate, Mike Pence’s 51st vote broke the tie – passing a bill that would allow states to prevent Title X (the federal family planning program) funding from going to Planned Parenthood or any other abortion providers.

Does Planned Parenthood offer abortions with the federal funding it is given?

Planned Parenthood does offer abortion services. But let’s be clear about the federal funding that is being discussed. Every year Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million in federal funding, which is largely associated with Medicaid reimbursements. However, none of this federal funding is used for abortion services. Under the 1976 Hyde Amendment, it is illegal to use federal funds for abortion, except in cases of incest, rape or if the child-bearer is in danger. Regardless, people who are attempting to defund Planned Parenthood claim that these federal funds “indirectly” support abortions by allowing Planned Parenthood to stay open and continue spending their other revenue sources on abortion services.

What does Planned Parenthood actually do?

Planned Parenthood, and women’s reproductive rights in general, are often used as part of a political agenda by government officials. So, it is important to understand what Planned Parenthood actually does and offers outside of what is constantly shown in news and media. Planned Parenthood, as described on its website, is “one of the nation’s leading providers of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, and the nation’s largest provider of sex education.” Planned Parenthood is a source of reproductive health care and education for about five million people each year. There are 650 affiliate health centers throughout the United States, and services may vary in each.

Based upon the Planned Parenthood 2014 annual report, here are many of the services that Planned Parenthood offered within the 2014-2015 calendar year:

Pap tests (about 270,000 tests performed)

Breast exams (about 360,000 exams performed)

Tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections (about 650,000 HIV tests)

HPV vaccination (24,063 vaccinations)

Prenatal services (17,419 clients)

Adoption referrals (2,024 referrals)

Abortion services (323,999 procedures)

Planned Parenthood is a major source of healthcare and health education for low income individuals, as more than half of the 2.8 million annual patients pay with Medicaid. Planned Parenthood is also one of the largest providers of LGBTQ+ healthcare. Therefore, defunding Planned Parenthood could result in a severe decrease in healthcare access for the most vulnerable populations. If Planned Parenthood is defunded, what alternatives do certain people have? Cecile Richards, the President of Planned Parenthood, took to Twitter to emphasize this issue:

“To justify this attack, politicians like @VP, @SpeakerRyan & @SecPriceMD have repeatedly – & falsely – claimed women can just go elsewhere,” she tweeted. “Why can’t women just go somewhere else instead of PP [Planned Parenthood]? For starters, in many communities, there *is* nowhere else.”

And how does the general public feel about Planned Parenthood? Well, a poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation states that 75 percent of the nation supports federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

What is being done about Planned Parenthood at Colgate?

I was able to get the chance to speak with Sophomore Laia Alonso, one of the leaders of Colgate’s Planned Parenthood Generation Action Chapter. In past years, this group has been known for their “Free Condom Fridays” campaigns on campus. However, in response to the current political climate, the Planned Parenthood Generation Action Chapter has shifted its priorities to focus on other issues. In recent months, this group has initiated an International Women’s Day fundraising event and a “Call your Congresswomen and men” tabling event at the Coop, where group members distributed scripts that detailed how to call your congressmen and women in support of Planned Pa-renthood. Colgate’s Planned Parenthood Generation Action Chapter continues to advocate for Planned Parenthood and access to quality healthcare and attempts to create spaces for support and discussion in this uncertain time.

With love,

The Sexpert