How 3 Planned Parenthood Critiques Stack Up to the Numbers
A grand jury on Monday in Harris County, Texas indicted two members of an anti-abortion group that made undercover videos of Planned Parenthood, which was under investigation for alleged misconduct. The videos suggested Planned Parenthood had attempted to illegally profit from the sale of fetal tissue, reigniting the debate about the organization’s operations and bringing reproductive rights to the forefront of political debate.
With roots dating back to 1916, Planned Parenthood has been under fire for providing reproductive health services and distributing contraceptives. Now, many opponents of the organization cite these services along with excessive government funding as reasons why it should be defunded, or potentially shut down. Using data from the Planned Parenthood 2014-2015 annual report and the Guttmacher Institute, InsideGov tested the validity of the three common attacks on Planned Parenthood. Do the common critiques of the health organization hold up?
Opponents of Planned Parenthood Focus on its Abortion Services
In an article on LifeNews.com, the national director of Priests for Life said the presence of a Planned Parenthood business so close to Catholic campuses is “a threat to the lives of the children carried in the wombs of pregnant students, and a threat to the health of any student who purchases Planned Parenthood services.” Though many believe that the organization promotes getting an abortion, how often are they performed?
Abortion only makes up 3.4 percent of the total services Planned Parenthood offers. The most frequent medical services include testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and infections (44.6 percent) and contraception (31.1 percent). In fact, the number of abortions performed decreased in 2014 from the year prior, according to the Planned Parenthood annual report. Planned Parenthood performed 323,999 abortions nationwide in 2014, compared to 327,653 abortions in 2013, according to the report.
Opponents of Planned Parenthood Argue That Taxpayers’ Money Should Not Fund the Organization
Opponents feel that government funding for the organization equates to federally-funded abortion services. (The government only funds abortions in unfortunate cases of rape, incest and the endangerment of a mother's life.) This assertion was the fire behind the conservative push to defund Planned Parenthood completely. The House of Representatives successfully passed legislation at the end of 2015 that would cut funding to the organization, though it is under veto threat from President Obama.
If the House bill goes through, about 48 percent of Planned Parenthood funding would be cut, causing a significant decrease in reach and in services offered. It would be difficult for the other 52 percent — consisting of non-government health services revenue, private contributions and affiliate support — to keep the organization afloat alone. Since the data shows Planned Parenthood’s primary services involve STD testing and treatment, these suggested cuts would predominantly impact those services. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently warned certain STDs, like gonorrhea, chlamydia and syphilis, are on the rise, meaning that cuts to programs related to testing and treatment would likely put more men and women at risk for infection.
Opponents of Planned Parenthood Argue that We Would do Better Without It
Both sides go back and forth on the nitty-gritty of the numbers, like services rendered or finances. But at the core of the debate is the question of whether women and men need Planned Parenthood at all. Even with the help of Planned Parenthood health centers, there is still a shortage of clinics. Can other clinics do the job on their own?
Toggle the drop-down menu to see percent of female contraceptive needs met, number of females in need of publicly funded contraceptive services and female contraceptive clients served at publicly funded clinics.
Overall, many women across the country who need publicly funded contraceptive services aren’t seeing their needs met by publicly funded clinics. In Texas, where the indictment of the two pro-life videographers took place, 1,774,240 women sought contraceptive care, but only 16 percent are getting it. In California, however, 2,660,280 women are in need, and 54 percent see those needs met. If 2.7 million women and men in the United States annually visit Planned Parenthood’s 650 affiliate health centers around the country, where will women go if it closes?
While the data indicates that Planned Parenthood can help fill a need for more women’s health care across the nation, opponents remain steadfast against the practice of abortion. The fiery debate is sure to continue.
Posted on January 29, 2016 by Natalie Morin
Learn More About Political Issues on InsideGov