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Should the Government Fund Planned Parenthood?

by Elizabeth Gelinas 5 years ago in controversies / opinion
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Written Dec. 2015

Part I: Background Information

In 1921, a non-profit organization called the American Birth Control League opened its doors in New York with the intention of helping promote the negative impacts of reckless breeding, get rid of the state and federal laws that stand in the way of using birth control, and figure out how to alleviate the looming international epidemic of overpopulation. The founder of the organization, Margaret Sanger, states in her book, The Pivot of Civilization, that she believes a child should be: Conceived in love, born of the mother's conscious desire, and only begotten under conditions which render possible the heritage of health (Sanger, Appendix). "A woman's right to control her body is central to her human rights," she says, that "every woman should have the right to choose when or whether to have children, that every child should be wanted and loved, and that women are entitled to sexual pleasure and fulfillment."

The name of the organization was changed to a less direct and to-the-point title, Planned Parenthood, in 1942. Planned Parenthoods goal has always been to provide reproductive health services for those who cannot afford it, and never turn anyone away. Some services that Planned Parenthood provides include STI/STD testing/treatment, cancer screening and prevention, contraception, accompanying health care, programs that inform on areas such as AIDS/HIV, contraception/family planning, abstinence/safe sex, sexual orientation/homophobia, teen pregnancy education, women's health in general, and abortion (Planned Parenthood Federation of America).

The government supports Planned Parenthood by means of health service grants and reimbursements. They also gain revenue through Non-Government Health Services, Private Contributions and Bequests. According to the 2013-2014 Combined Statement of Revenue, Expenses and Changes in Net Assets: National and Affiliates, out of 1.3 billion revenue only 528.4 million of it came from the government. Expenses included 769.1 million on medical services, 44.6 million on sexuality education, 33.6 million on public policy, 24.7 million on engaging communities, 65 million to increasing access, 14.8 million to build advocacy capacity, 3.6 million to renew leadership, 1.8 million to refresh their brand, 145.9 million on management and general, 63.4 million on fundraising, and 9.8 million on other expenses. This comes out to 1.1 billion dollars in expenses in the year of 2014 (2013-2014 Annual Report).

Recently, videos have been released from the Center of Medical Progress discussing partial-birth abortion technique to harvest fetal brain (David Daleiden). The interview claims that Dr. Amna Dermish, Planned Parenthood Late-Term Abortion Doctor, does not use the chemical digoxin to kill the fetus before the 20 weeks, so her feet-first, intact extraction abortions are done on living fetuses. Using ultrasound guidance to manipulate the fetus from vertex to breech orientation before extracting the yet-living fetus is a hallmark of the illegal partial-birth abortion procedure (18 U.S.C 1531) (Daleiden).

George Tiller, a man who was assassinated for his work, established the injection of digoxin in late-term abortions. This is in fact now the method that the U.S. Supreme Court allows after the Partial Birth Abortion Ban act. With this in mind, what Dermish was doing was illegal. It turns out, however, that the video posted had dozens of unexplained splices and edits (Carolyn Maloney, CNN), and is rendered unreliable slander.

Part II: Opposing Views

  • No, the United States Government should not fund Planned Parenthood.
  • Taxpayers' money should not be used towards abortions.

One of the main reasons people are having such a big issue with the government funding Planned Parenthood is because they do not want their tax money funding abortions. The almost unanimously anti-abortion Republican Congress wants to take away women's right to choose what they want to do with their pregnancy. Planned Parenthood has been shady with the percentage of abortions they perform in relation to other services. Senior Policy Analyst for the Center for Data Analysis breaks down the 2013 Affiliate Medical Services Data graph to uncover that they crunched the numbers in a clever way.

How does the Planned Parenthood annual report arrive at the 3 percent figure? Hall wonders, the calculation counts each discrete clinical interaction as a separate medical service, meaning simple tests or routine provision of birth control are given the same weight as surgical or chemical abortions.

This means that while only 3% of people who go into the office for any kind of treatment end up with an abortion, the number of women getting abortions each year is still approximately 300,000. Along with this issue, it is apparent that the number of breast cancer exams, pap tests, and prenatal care patients are also being tampered with, as each other, these procedures have declined by 41% to 58% between 2009 and 2013 (Freiburger, Commentary).

2. Reckless spending of government revenue.

Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, was accused by Republicans for supposedly hosting pricey parties, flying first class, and spending more time fundraising than focusing on women's health (Tom LoBianco, CNN). The House questioned whether or not Planned Parenthood was wasting the publics tax dollars and wanted to be sure that they did not become numb to that phenomenon and put an end to the program if necessary. Fox News also reported that Planned Parenthood spent over $5.1 million on travel in 2013.

3. Reports of selling fetal tissue for a profit.

As brought up earlier, The Center For Medical Progress made a video depicting a late-stage abortion specialist discussing the topic of selling fetal tissue. Although the footage was butchered in a way that changed any kind of point the doctor was trying to make, it is true that they are in the practice of extracting the fetus and salvaging the tissue.

  • Yes, the United States Government should fund Planned Parenthood.
  • Abortion is legal.

Although many oppose, including the Republicans that populate the House of Representatives, abortion is legal, and Planned Parenthood is not breaking the law in any way by performing them. Even late-term abortions are legal with the use of digoxin to kill the un-born fetus. After the legendary court case Roe v. Wade passed that right a woman has the right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, abortion became no one but the mothers decision.

  • Fetal tissue research is legal.

After the botched videos caused the catastrophe that started the movement to defund Planned Parenthood, President Cecile Richards sent out a letter with the purpose of explaining the situation and clearing up all of the suspicious allegations against her organization. She quotes John Boehner to make it clear that the facts are the most important thing.

The federal law on fetal tissue research was shaped by a blue-ribbon panel created in 1988 under the Reagan Administration… its final report stated: a decisive majority of the panel found that it was acceptable public policy to support transplant research with fetal tissue (Richards, Letter from Planned Parenthood).

Human Fetal Tissue Transplantation Research Panel supports the use of fetal tissue for research for two main reasons, the first being that with abortion being legal the fetus would be extracted regardless of whether or not the tissue is being used, and the research in question is intended to achieve significant medical goals (Richards, 3).

So far research conducted on fetal tissue has improved the medical field tremendously and it seems impossible to continue on without it. PBS News states that it is essential to vaccines and developing treatments, and, researchers use fetal tissue to understand cell biology and human development. Others use it to look for treatments for AIDS. Research on spinal cord injuries and eyesight-robbing macular degeneration involves transplanting fetal cells into patients. European researchers recently began putting fetal tissue into patients brains to try to treat Parkinsons, a strategy that previously had mixed results (Binkley, PBS).

On top of all of this, David Daleiden made a fake company and illegally infiltrated Planned Parenthood for three years trying to incriminate them and the Republicans are still using this against Planned Parenthood.

3. Planned Parenthood always shows the patient all of their options.

With help from government funds such as the Title X grant and Medicaid Planned Parenthood has the resources to give patients the reproductive health services they need and deserve, and always makes sure the patient knows all of their options before deciding what is right for them. To ensure that the Title X grant is not directly funding abortion its regulations are that, each project supported under Title X must… not provide abortion as a method of family planning, but also must:

  • Offer pregnant women the opportunity to be provided information and counseling regarding each of the following options:a. Prenatal care and delivery;b. Infant care, foster care, or adoption; andc. Pregnancy termination.
  • If requested to provide such information and counseling, provide neutral, factual information and nondirective counseling on each of the options, and referral upon request, except with respect to any option(s) about which the pregnant woman indicates she does not wish to receive such information and counseling (Authenticated U.S. Government Information).

Part III: Analysis

In reality, Planned Parenthood has done nothing illegal or morally wrong. They have had a man infiltrate their organization for three years looking for evidence to destroy them, constant threats, and acts of violence against them, and minimal support from the government about any of it, yet they still continue to do what they are doing in order to help others. The government should fund Planned Parenthood because without that money they would not have the funds to perform the important reproductive health procedures that so many women count on. The policy of funds provided to Planned Parenthood, such as the Title X grants and Medicaid, are put together by the government, which is why the ultimate decision to defund them lays in their hands. Planned Parenthood and all of the women that turn to them for help benefit from the funding given by the government, which once again puts them in a very vulnerable position, giving the government all of the power.

Part IV: Policy Prescription

The bottom line is, Planned Parenthood has done nothing illegal to warrant government defunding. They have not performed illegal operations, stolen money, or anything that the allegations claim. An overwhelmingly right-wing Congress, however, is in no position to make an unbiased decision about the funding of this program, because ultimately they are voting to try to decrease women's access to abortions. The House of Representatives would not even let Richards speak in the meeting, let alone give her any type of chance to explain herself. The only way this problem could be fairly sorted out is if the Congress wasn't primarily Republican, or perhaps if it was brought before the Supreme Court.

Works Cited

"Care. No Matter What." SERVICES (n.d.): n. pag. Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Web. <https://www.plannedparenthood.org/files/4013/9611/7243/Planned_Parenthood_Services.pdf>.

Daleiden, David. "Planned Parenthood TX Doc: Harvesting Intact Fetal Heads Will Give Me Something to Strive For." The Center for Medical Progress. The Center for Medical Progress, 27 Oct. 2015. Web. 02 Dec. 2015. <http://www.centerformedicalprogress.org/author/david/>.

Freiburger, Calvin. "Commentary." Conservative Review. Conservative Review, 24 Sept. 2015. Web. 02 Dec. 2015. <https://www.conservativereview.com/commentary/2015/09/a-comprehensive-guide-to-planned-parenthood-funding>.

Hall, Jamie Bryan, and Roger Severino. "Disentangling the Data on Planned Parenthood Affiliates' Abortion Services and Receipt of Taxpayer Funding." The Heritage Foundation. N.p., 30 Sept. 2015. Web. 02 Dec. 2015. <http://www.heritage.org/research/reports/2015/09/disentangling-the-data-on-planned-parenthood-affiliates-abortion-services-and-receipt-of-taxpayer-funding>.

"Late-Term Abortion." Operation Rescue. N.p., 14 July 2009. Web. 02 Dec. 2015. <http://www.operationrescue.org/about-abortion/late-term-abortion/>.

Maloney, Carolyn B. "Don't Defund Planned Parenthood." CNN. N.p., 29 Sept. 2015. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. <http://www.cnn.com/2015/09/29/opinions/maloney-planned-parenthood/>.

Moses, Theodora R. "American Birth Control League (ABCL) | American Organization." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 10 Sept. 2014. Web. 02 Dec. 2015. <http://www.britannica.com/topic/American-Birth-Control-League>.

"Planned Parenthood 2013-2014 Annual Report." Issuu. Planned Parenthood Federation of America, 30 June 2015. Web. 02 Dec. 2015. <http://issuu.com/actionfund/docs/annual_report_final_proof_12.16.14_/0>.

Sanger, Margaret. The Pivot of Civilization. Elmsford, NY: Maxwell Reprint, 1969. Print.

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