Why the Defunding of Planned Parenthood is Everybody’s Problem

Sarah Anderson, Assistant Commentary Editor

Read this carefully: This is an argument for why the defunding of Planned Parenthood would be devastating for hundreds of thousands of women and children. This is not an argument for or against the practice of abortion. I am not trying to convince anyone that abortion is right, or to agree with it, or even to tolerate it.

I am asking you to try not to make this an issue of right versus left. I am asking you simply to take a step back and think of this issue in the clear, nonpartisan terms of our good friend Isaac Newton and his universally accepted Third Law: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. 

Action: Congress defunds Planned Parenthood in an

effort to gain political traction. 

Reaction: Thousands of women will lose access to its services, namely preventative health care, birth control and sexual education. According to the Washington Post, this number is somewhere around 650,000 women, a large portion of whom are living below the poverty line. 

I think that most reasonable people might conclude that denying our society’s most vulnerable women access to birth control and sexual education will most likely lead to an increase in unwanted pregnancies. An increase in unwanted pregnancies among women without means to raise a child will logically lead to an increase in abortions. Furthermore, making it more difficult for these women to access abortion services could lead to an increase in later-term abortions. 

So here is my argument in its simplest form: If the ultimate goal is to reduce the annual number of abortions, defunding Planned Parenthood is not the way to do this. Doing so could actually increase the number of annual abortions. 

I can certainly understand the horror and concern over the highly controversial videos showing corrupt officials. This can be dealt with, but defunding an organization that performs 500,000 breast exams and 400,000 cervical screenings annually to take revenge on a few (arguably) corrupt individuals is by no means a solution. 

According to the Guttmacher Institute, a nonpartisan research institution focused on issues of reproductive health, abortion in the U.S. is concentrated among poor women – 42 percent of women who have abortions are below the federal poverty level. 

I think that no matter your personal opinion on the issue, you would agree that women do not have abortions because they are convenient. Women have abortions because they do not think they can be a mother, which is a decision that will profoundly affect the course of their lives. Because of this strong self-interest, if a woman has decided that she wants an abortion, the overwhelming majority will do what needs to be done to get one. It is not an issue of convenience.  

Before abortion was legal, many women literally died trying. Further, one in seven women who have abortions wish they could have done it earlier, but needed time to raise money for the procedure. This is why defunding Planned Parenthood could lead to abortions even later in the process. It will make it harder for these women, but it will not stop them. 

Let’s suppose that I am wrong. It has certainly happened before. Let’s say that defunding Planned Parenthood sharply decreases abortion in America. Let’s say that thousands upon thousands of babies are born next year that wouldn’t otherwise. 

A life is a beautiful thing, and I fully and wholeheartedly agree that there is no joy in life greater than a child. But now let’s discuss the enormous problem that we would then face: the fate of thousands of children whose mothers cannot or will not be their mothers. 

The same bill that was introduced last week in the Senate to defund Planned Parenthood also proposed to increase defense spending by about $13 billion. This actually turns my stomach. Whether the bill would increase or decrease abortions, either way the fallout from it will leave thousands of women and children in desperate need of that money. Where is their funding? In my opinion, if you are going to fight for these infants when they are still in the womb, you better be ready to fight for them afterwards, and for a bare minimum of 18 years. 

We will also need to find a way to help these women (and men) who need affordable health care to receive services elsewhere, or have every taxpayer shell out some extra money to help a system burdened by women with cancer who no longer had access to screening. Economically, the defunding would likely increase government spending by shifting the burden onto Medicaid. 

If you identify as pro-life, I believe that you should do everything in your power not only to prevent the termination of pregnancies, but to prevent these unwanted pregnancies from ever happening at all. The way to do so is through access to birth control and sexual education, which are the fundamental missions of Planned Parenthood. 

If you identify as pro-life, I believe that you should value the lives of those women for whom early cancer screening is the difference between life and death. My own mother would have died of breast cancer if it weren’t for my family’s access to health care and early screening. Thousands of women receive their only preventative health care from Planned Parenthood. 

If you identify as pro-life, I believe that you should do

whatever you can to ensure that your mothers and sisters and daughters and friends live healthy and fulfilling lives, and that if these women ever need to become a part of the one in six who will visit Planned Parenthood at some point in their lives, they can do so.