The upcoming presidential election may mark the end of Planned Parenthood, the organization that has been advocating and providing women with sexual and reproductive health care for over 90 years.
A recent article by the New Yorker outlines that every GOP nominee has signed the Pro-Life Presidential Leadership Pledge stating, “If elected President, I will … defund Planned Parenthood.”
The GOP’s commitment to ending America’s budget deficit at the risk of undermining the constitutional rights of women is apparent. Unfortunately, these actions will result in an unfavorable outcome for health care in the U.S. and the already struggling lower-class as well.
The establishment striving to advance women’s safety and health, prevent unwanted pregnancies, and assist individuals and families to make informed and responsible decisions operates almost 800 clinics run by the 82 Planned Parenthood affiliations across the country. Campaigners against the organization criticize that most women are going to these clinics for free abortions paid for by taxpayers. In an effort to provide a solution to the struggling economy, conservatives are not only attacking women’s rights but also opposing federal funding for the poor. This can only result in a further-damaged economy, reversing the progress that has been made in health care and weakening the livelihood of the lower-class.
The Susan B. Anthony List, a pro-life committee in support of the pledge, claims that “More government funding of Planned Parenthood has corresponded with increased number of abortions there.”
Although it may be true that more and more women seek Planned Parenthood as a resource for pregnancy prevention, defunding the organization will not necessarily decrease abortion rates or discourage women from choosing this type of contraception, as conservatives hope to see. In fact, Gilda Sedgh of the Guttmacher Institute and colleagues from the World Health Organization reported in a study that women in countries where abortion is banned are just as likely to get an abortion as women are in countries where it is legal. Therefore, the abortion rate in a country where abortion continues to be legal will remain the same, regardless if Planned Parenthood loses its funds for operation. Experts also found that abortion trends from 1995 to 2003 are practically equal in rich and poor countries (“Abortion rates same,” 2012). Similarly, abortion trends here in the states should also remain consistent amongst different social class. The trend that will change, however, is the number of abortions performed safely and legally in the U.S. This is surely to increase for individuals, particularly in lower-income neighborhoods, who don’t have, lose or receive minimal health care benefits and don’t have an outlet like Planned Parenthood to turn to.
Aside from abortion, this pledge will also be detrimental to people who seek other services provided by the organization. In 2008, 34% of services contributed to STI/STD testing and treatment. According to Susan B. Anthony’s list, “Planned Parenthood touts its ‘preventative services’ but they all seem to have failed to prevent the problems they claim to solve. Rates of non-marital births and sexually transmitted diseases are increasing.”
What will be the outcome when there are even fewer facilities and access to STI/STD testing? An even rapid increase of the number of sexually transmitted disease cases reported in the country. The growth of sexually transmitted diseases should be more of a reason to provide health care establishments like Planned Parenthood in the U.S.
On October 16, 1916, the first birth-control clinic in the U.S. opened on 46 Amboy Street in Brooklyn. Ten days later, the clinic was closed down by police after an undercover officer was sold a copy of Margaret Sanger’s “What Every Girl Should Know.” That incident did not end the war on women’s health.
After the next presidential election, the battle will still be far from over.
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