A few weeks ago, Congress barely escaped an ugly government shutdown. Working late into the night, the two sides begrudgingly agreed to cut a paltry $38.5 billion from our bloated budget.
The main sticking point for Republicans was the $363 million in federal dollars that go toward funding Planned Parenthood. This is roughly a third of Planned Parenthoodâ€™s $1.1 billion annual budget with the rest coming from private donations and the nominal fees paid by patients.
Conservatives often decry Planned Parenthood as an abortion mill. Republican Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona claimed during a floor speech that â€œwell over 90 percentâ€ of Planned Parenthoodâ€™s activities involve performing abortions.
It turns out that this claim is wildly inaccurate. The actual number of abortions performed by Planned Parenthood makes up only 3 percent of the procedures performed by the group. Of the abortions they do perform, more than 75 percent are induced via â€œthe abortion pill.â€ The rest are performed surgically, but the group never performs partial-birth abortions, which are the most controversial form of the procedure.
Senator Kylâ€™s office later claimed that his gross misinformation was â€œnot intended to be a factual statement.â€ Did they seriously admit that? This just goes to show the lengths that politicians are willing to go to in order to deceive the public.
While Senator Kylâ€™s statements were â€œnot intended to be factual,â€ his constituents arenâ€™t aware that the â€œstatisticsâ€ heâ€™s using to back up his point are completely false and misleading. People who are adamantly opposed to abortion are simply going to take this lie as fact and go about their lives believing it. Theyâ€™ll most likely even quote this figure to other people, perpetuating the lie even further.
The fact of the matter is that itâ€™s federally mandated by the 1976 Hyde Amendment that none of the public funding for Planned Parenthood can go toward abortions. The only exceptions to the rule are in the extreme cases of when pregnancy is the result of rape, incest or if there is a legitimate threat to the motherâ€™s life and abortion is the last resort.
While Planned Parenthood did perform about 330,000 abortions last year, it also performed a million screenings for cervical cancer, 830,000 breast exams and some 4 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases.
In a statement from Cecile Richards, the president of Planned Parenthood, Richards said, â€œItâ€™s an outrage to shut down the government over an extreme proposal that would deny millions of women Pap tests, breast cancer screenings and birth control. Attacking Planned Parenthoodâ€™s preventive health care hurts women and does not cut the deficit or fix the economy.â€
The $363 million in federal funding that goes to Planned Parenthood is intended to help low-income women. This funding is supplied by both the Title X program and Medicaid. Title X was signed into law in 1970 by Republican President Richard Nixon and provides grants for family planning and related health services.
Almost three out of every four Planned Parenthood clinics are in rural or medically underserved communities. As a result, many women come to Planned Parenthood for basic healthcare that is unrelated to reproductive health issues. At many of these clinics, general health practitioners are on hand to accommodate these women.
While Planned Parenthood does perform a large number of abortions, it also prevents millions of unwanted pregnancies from ever occurring in the first place. Planned Parenthood serves a vital function in our society by helping improve the lives and health of women who need assistance most.
As ugly as abortion is, itâ€™s time social conservatives realized that taking away access to basic healthcare for poor women isnâ€™t going to fix any of our national problems.
Joe Vajgrt is a junior journalism major who suggests you guys wrap things up, so to speak. His column appears every Thursday in the Collegian. Letters and feedback can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.