What You Need To Know About the Planned Parenthood Controversy

Planned Parenthood is a reproductive health care provider that is “dedicated to offering men, women, and teens high-quality, affordable medical care,” according to its website. The organization also “believes in the fundamental right of each individual, throughout the world, to manage his or her fertility … regardless of the individual’s income, marital status, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, national origin, or residence.” The organization provides many vital services, like contraception, breast exams, cancer treatments, and treatments for STIs/STDs. They also provide abortions.

Pro-life supporters, particularly Republican politicians and representatives, have historically vehemently opposed the organization for this reason. Recently, however, some proposed a bill to eliminate federal funding for the organization — a bill that just barely failed to get the 60 votes needed to bring the bill up for debate (the vote was 53-46) earlier this month.

The bill was spurred by videos leaked in order to discredit Planned Parenthood, including one that claimed the organization profits from fetal tissue and organs taken from abortions without donors’ consent. Selling fetal tissue and organs is certainly an action worth opposing. However, Planned Parenthood doesn’t do this. If and only if women consent, Planned Parenthood donates stem cells from aborted fetuses for research.

“Patients sometimes want to donate tissue to scientific research that can help lead to medical breakthroughs, such as treatments and cures for serious diseases. Women at Planned Parenthood who have abortions are no different,” the vice president of communications for Planned Parenthood said in a statement. “There is no financial benefit for tissue donation for either the patient or for Planned Parenthood. In some instances, actual costs, such as the cost to transport tissue to leading research centers, are reimbursed, which is standard across the medical field.”

In fact, the Hyde Amendment — a law passed in 1977 — made using federal funding to pay for abortions illegal. Planned Parenthood, therefore, does not use the federal funding they receive for abortion services but for the free healthcare services they provide. In fact, 97% of Planned Parenthood’s services are unrelated to abortion. 80% of their services are devoted to preventing unwanted pregnancies — a goal pro-lifers should seemingly support, since fewer unwanted pregnancies means fewer abortions. Denying Planned Parenthood these funds, therefore, would serve a major blow to the organization’s ability to provide these services — services on which countless women (many of whom are low-income and unable to obtain these services elsewhere) depend.

The fact that the bill failed, therefore, is encouraging. But the hard truth is that Republican Senators and Representatives have threatened a government shutdown in September unless another bill, with the same purpose, passes. Remember what happened the last time the government shut down in December 2013, due to the federal budget? It wasn’t good. Travel abroad wasn’t possible, because TSA personnel are considered non-essential during a shutdown. Employees for Social Security and Medicaid are not considered essential either. Public institutions, like national parks and museums, closed their doors.

We cannot essentially let a Republicans throw a temper tantrum over not being allowed to legislate women’s reproductive rights. As President Barack Obama said, “We shouldn’t have a bunch of politicians, a majority of whom are men, making healthcare decisions on behalf of women.”

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