As most of you know by now, the House of Representatives budget plan is being tossed around Washington like a hot potato. The Republicans want major cuts in all areas of government spending, while giving tax cuts to the rich. Some of these cuts include diluting medicare and essentially taking money from many areas of government funding that would help the poor. One cut that I would like to focus on is the rescinding of funding for Planned Parenthood. In fact, the Republicans have put funding reductions to Planned Parenthood at the front of their “budget campaign”. Since a majority of the Republican party is anti-abortion-especially conservatives and Tea Party members-targeting Planned Parenthood is an excellent strategic political move. We do have the 2012 election approaching, and this kind of political maneuvering is essential to the Republican party. They have blacklisted Planned Parenthood as an abortion free-for-all. I’m here to set the record straight.
Planned Parenthood was founded by Margaret Sanger. It dates its beginnings to 1916 when Sanger, her sister, and a friend opened America's first birth control clinic in Brooklyn, New York. The mission of Planned Parenthood is based on the philosophy carried out by Sanger:
1. providing contraception and other health services to women and men
2. funding research on birth control and educating specialists and the public about the results
3. advancing access to family planning in the United States and around the world
Although Planned Parenthood serves women and men of all classes, I believe its outreach to the poor is of great significance. One of the main elements of President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty in the mid-60's was family planning. This included access to birth control and other family planning resources to government aid recipients. President Richard Nixon took it even further by supporting more research into contraception, more family planning educational programs, and more access to contraception for those who could not afford it. In 1973, the triumphant case, Roe v. Wade, gave women the legal and constitutional right to abortion. President Ronald Reagan worked hard to criminalize abortion and force Planned Parenthood and other facilities from offering counseling on abortion. Programs to educate youth on family planning was replaced by abstinence education, although the teen pregnancy rate dramatically increased. The Title X gag rule-instated by President Reagan-prohibited low-income patients from receiving medical information, counseling, and referrals for abortion services. Planned Parenthood mobilized to fight these measures. In 1989-while President George H.W. Bush was in office-Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women marched on Washington with 2 million men and women present. President Bill Clinton repealed Reagan’s Title X gag rule. Under President George W. Bush, attacks on laws to preserve women’s reproductive rights was incessant. Planned Parenthood and other organizations fought hard to keep these rights in place.
Planned Parenthood is an organization that since its inception now has 800 clinics across the U.S., provides sexual and reproductive health care, education, and information to more than five million women, men, and adolescents worldwide each year, and provides many other services. What I would like to point out-especially to the Republican congress-is that only 3% of their services relate to abortion. This is an organization set up for family planning. To help women and men decide if and when they want to have children. If anything, they work to avoid accidental pregnancies and abortions. They strive to help educate young and old about issues dealing with sexuality and reproductive health. There is no abortion frenzy happening at Planned Parenthood. I’ve been there myself several times and they have provided me with wonderful, kind service. I was able to have a pap smear-which is essential to all women once a year-when I couldn’t afford it. I was able to obtain the birth control pill when I couldn’t pay for it. There is a tremendous need for Planned Parenthood. As I said earlier, their greatest accomplishment is their services to the poor and underprivileged, especially teenagers and young people. Planned Parenthood has a reputation for being safe and accessible.
The Republican right will keep pushing to end Planned Parenthood as a symbol to us all. They’re shouting: “We will take down abortion! We will take down Planned Parenthood!” They know these two issues are not synonymous, but many of their constituents do not. This is a fight for political power, not moral justice. And yet many are subscribing to it. To close Planned Parenthood would be an atrocity. Without Planned Parenthood there will be an increase in unwanted pregnancy and an increase in abortions. If you are truly anti-abortion, closing Planned Parenthood negates your case. Teaching abstinence doesn’t work and never has. I guess we are meant to go back in time to unwanted pregnancies and coat-hanger abortions, an increase in HIV/AIDS, and a huge jump in teen pregnancies. Planned Parenthood has a vast and extensive history, it is supported by many powerful organizations, and its grassroots work has made it a household name. Good luck, Washington. Planned Parenthood will not be taken down without a fight.