By: Caroline Thew | Our Voice Contributor
Beginning with the Women's March in January, Planned Parenthood funding and abortion rights have been constants in our national policy discussions. The organization is commonly miss-characterized by the notion that the federal government directly funds abortions and those procedures are the majority of the care Planned Parenthood provides. On behalf of all of us living in reality - I beg to differ!
A ban on federal money paying for abortions has existed since 1980. It is commonly known as the Hyde Amendment and is passed with bipartisan support each year as part of the Departments of Labor and Health and Human Services Budget. The Hyde Amendment is named after Representative Henry Hyde (R-IL), a congressman who was openly againstabortion.
According to this NPR article from 2009, the original Hyde Amendment, introduced in 1976, was an outright ban on all federal funding for abortions. Over the years, it has changed to allow for exceptions concerning rape, incest, and endangerment of the mother. Between 1976 and the Hyde Amendment taking effect, 300,000 abortions were paid for by the federal government each year. This number has dropped drastically since the Hyde Amendment's enactment. Cutting federal funding for Planned Parenthood is not going to stop federal money from going to abortions because the Hyde Amendment prevented this from happening for the past thirty-seven years, with the exceptions listed above.
According to Planned Parenthood's 2014-2015 annual report, of the 9,455,582 total services provided, only 323,999 abortion procedures were performed . This means abortions account for a total of 3.42% of Planned Parenthood's patient services, not the 90-94% some Republican lawmakers have claimed. So what else does Planned Parenthood do? Planned Parenthood's website lists the following: birth control education, prenatal care, cancer screenings and education, emergency contraception, sexual health and education, preventative care, sexual orientation and gender identity education, STD screenings and treatment, sex, relationships, consent.
One fact that is often misunderstood is the majority of Planned Parenthood’s patients are low income families. Fees vary by area and they accept most insurance plans. If you do not have insurance they assist you with finding appropriate community programs, guiding you through the insurance plan enrollment process, or setting up payment installments.
Cutting federal funding of Planned Parenthood would negatively impact millions of people by eliminating a major provider of accessible medical care! Where else will the poor go for necessary services ranging from preventative care to sexual education and STD treatments to cancer screenings and birth control? If anything, decreasing access to birth control will serve to increase the number of unwanted pregnancies! The question persists: What, exactly, do the opponents of Planned Parenthood expect to achieve?