When House Republicans released their plan to replace Obamacare, as promised defunding Planned Parenthood was included in their proposal.
In her recent town hall, Rep. Martha McSally indicated she supported legislation that would do just that. The reason she gave is the same one House Speaker Paul Ryan has given: The work Planned Parenthood does can be done by a far greater number of federal health clinics, therefore rendering the organization nonessential.
This is a sensible conclusion. If the services rendered by Planned Parenthood can be done by another entity, then why not reroute federal funds away from a private organization funded with public dollars? The reason so many reject this solution is because of one thing Planned Parenthood specializes in: abortion.
While recent polls show that a majority of Americans have signaled support for Planned Parenthood, a Marist poll finds that a supermajority of people — even those who are pro-choice — do not support federal funding of it. This is the principal point of contention with the institution, especially for conservative lawmakers.
Federal funds cannot be used directly for abortions, except for the rare cases of rape, incest, or to protect a mother’s life. However, money is fungible, and since reporting from Planned Parenthood is spotty, it is hard to accurately determine if in fact federal funds are being used to help subsidize abortions.
The organization’s 2014 fiscal numbers, the most recent, show it performed 323,999 abortions that year. The cost for an elective abortion can range from $300 to $3,500, depending on in which trimester it is performed, geographic location and insurance considerations. About 90 percent of abortions take place in the first trimester, at an average cost of about $700.
On top of this, you have the 1.5 million emergency contraception kits, or morning-after pills, that Planned Parenthood handed out in 2014. Many people view these as a form of abortion they should not have to pay for.
Those who defend Planned Parenthood say the organization does a great service by bringing sexual health services — family planning, as they call it — to low-income people; that the majority of those people are poor women of reproductive age. They try to point to other things Planned Parenthood does, like breast cancer screenings and Pap smears, as a means of justifying the work it does.
Claims that taking funding from Planned Parenthood will cause many in Arizona to lose necessary services are widely exaggerated. Federal health centers perform all of the crucial services previously mentioned for women, and many more, including mammograms; they even do family planning, plus they are far more numerous. And since they don’t perform abortions, there wouldn’t be the slightest question about whether taxpayer money is helping to pay for the procedure.
President Trump recently offered Planned Parenthood the chance to keep its public dollars if it would stop performing abortions. Its leaders of course refused the offer, because, to them and to many of their supporters, abortion is a part of the family planning process. It is legal to kill an unborn child, yes, but why should those who oppose it be forced into a complicitous funding of it? Those who want to keep funding the Planned Parenthood abortion mill can do so on their own dime.