On Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that cuts off all federal funding to Planned Parenthood for one year due to allegations of illegal activities. These allegations stemmed from videos released by the anti-abortion group, Center for Medical Progress (CMP). According to the Washington Post, the CMP says there were “violations of federal laws prohibiting the sales of fetal tissue for profit” committed by Planned Parenthood.
Before diving deeper into the claims against Planned Parenthood, what even is Planned Parenthood? Using Facebook, I posed this question to 49 Ramapo College freshmen: “What do you think Planned Parenthood’s main function is?” The answers to choose from were: A. STI testing/treatment, B. Abortions and C. Cancer screenings. 65 percent answered A, 29 percent answered B and six percent answered C.
The truth is that Planned Parenthood performs all of these services and more. However, when it comes to where its federal funding goes and its main services, what is the truth?
Statistics from the Washington Post breakdown how Planned Parenthood’s resources are used. The majority, 42 percent, of work done by Planned Parenthood is STI testing and treatment. The rest of their work is 34 percent contraception, 11 percent women’s health services, nine percent cancer screenings/prevention, three percent abortion services and the remaining one percent other services.
If abortion is only three percent of Planned Parenthood’s services, why is there such a bad stigma attached to the organization, aside from the obvious argument between those who are “pro-life” and those who are “pro-choice”? There is another argument from pro-life individuals that taxpayer dollars should not be used for the termination of a pregnancy. However, taxpayers' dollars are not used.
The Washington Post explains, “services supported with federal dollars are STD screenings and contraception.” Planned Parenthood receives private donations and donations from non-government organizations in order to fund abortion services. It has been this way since 1970 when protesters convinced the government to stop funding abortion services only.
Putting aside the argument of pro-life versus pro-choice, Planned Parenthood is an essential resource for reproductive education and women’s health. One of the clinic’s goals is to “give you up-to-date, clear information that helps you better understand your reproductive health,” and they certainly deliver. Planned Parenthood provides educational programs and outreach to 1.5 million young people and adults every single year.
Circling back to the main issue at hand, the allegation still stands that Planned Parenthood has been selling post-abortion fetal organs and tissue for profit. This scandal has been reported false by a multitude of news sources such as the Washington Post, CNN and CNBC. Planned Parenthood does donate organs and tissues to biomedical personnel for research.
Eric Ferrero, a Planned Parenthood spokesman, was quoted in a CNN article saying that Planned Parenthood aids tissue donations "with full, appropriate consent from patients and under the highest ethical and legal standards.”
There is no charge for the organs and tissues themselves; however, sometimes a small fee is charged by the organization for processing and handling. Once donated to biomedical personnel, the donated materials are used for crucial medical testing. According to CNBC, fetal donations are often linked with an attempt to find a cure for diseases like Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.
Despite these allegations being proven false, there is still an uproar in the House of Representatives (mostly with conservative Republicans) and with pro-life supporters. While the bill managed to pass the HOR, both President Obama and the Senate vow to veto the bill, knowing that losing a source like Planned Parenthood would be a tremendous loss for women throughout the country. Pro-life, pro-choice, pro-who-cares, it does not matter at this period of time. What matters is that millions of American women will be left without proper health care and amazing resources, such as STI testing and treatment that would be otherwise very difficult to obtain.
If this country cannot put the controversy of abortion aside to see the much larger picture, a vital resource for the general population will be lost.