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Fresh off the heels of his surprise win in the New Hampshire Republican primary, Ohio Governor John Kasich is expected to sign a bill that a Planned Parenthood leader in the state claims will “destroy” the organization’s community health initiatives by diverting funding away from the health care provider, which prevents far more abortions each year through its sexual education initiatives and low-cost birth control than it ever could perform. The Republican-controlled House sent the legislation to Kasich on Wednesday while he campaigned for president in South Carolina ahead of the upcoming GOP primary.
With the bill headed to Kasich, the CEO and president of Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio, Stephanie Kight, said that the non-profit advocate for women’s reproductive and sexual health is reviewing its options. Supporters of Planned Parenthood on Wednesday distributed pamphlets describing the services offered by the organization, handwritten valentines and condoms to members of the state legislature in hopes of swaying House members to oppose the measure.
The Ohio Department of Health distributes approximately $1.3 million annually to Planned Parenthood to support programs for cervical and breast cancer testing, HIV screenings, and other reproductive and sexual health initiatives. The bill, which is expected to be signed by Kasich, would prevent the Ohio DOH from distributing funds to organizations that promote or perform abortions. Ohio Right to Life Executive Director Stephanie Ranade believes the restriction of funding would not hurt patients because there are many other providers of preventative care available.
While it is certainly true that many women can afford to go elsewhere for preventive care, there are many others who cannot. Prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act, women without insurance could not afford to visit doctors for vital reproductive health care and sex education. For these women, Planned Parenthood was their only affordable option for annual cancer screenings, birth control and treatment of STDs. Post-ACA, high deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums may prevent lower-income women from visiting doctors for medically necessary treatments and screenings.
Sexually active teens who are on their parents’ health insurance plans may be apprehensive about visiting the family doctor for sexual health care, birth control and preventative screening. In these instances, Planned Parenthood offers young women, who otherwise would be too fearful of their parents’ reaction to their sexual activity, access to affordable birth control. There is no better way to prevent abortions than to educate young, sexually active teenagers on the necessity of birth control and then, to provide it.
In addition, not all Planned Parenthood locations perform abortions. Other services provided by the non-profit include LGBT services, men’s health care and pregnancy testing and care, in addition to providing vaccinations against and treatment for STDs. The organization offers global services and treats millions of women, men and teens worldwide. According to Planned Parenthood, one in five women in the U.S. has used their health care services at least one time in her life.
A report by NPR examined the 2013 – 2014 annual report of Planned Parenthood and found that abortion-related services accounted for 3 percent of the services provided during that time frame. Critics point out that instead of reporting the numbers in services provided, a truer figure would result from calculating the number of patients. When presented in those terms, it is estimated that 12 percent of Planned Parenthood’s patients receive abortions. In real numbers, the organization provided almost 10.6 million services, of which 328,000 were abortions. Without the birth control and sex education services offered by the very same non-profit, the numbers of abortions performed would be much higher.
Abortion has always been a political issue used by both Republicans and Democrats to appease whichever group needs placating at a specific time. Planned Parenthood has become politically synonymous with abortion, and opponents of Roe v. Wade often point to the non-profit as an “abortion mill,” avoiding the myriad services provided by the organization in the U.S. and across the globe. It seems the quickest and most effective way to demonstrate a firm standing with the conservative base against abortion is to go after Planned Parenthood funding with no regard to the vital preventive care and birth control services it provides for those who cannot afford a doctor visit for birth control, let alone the birth control itself.
According to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the majority of Planned Parenthood’s patients fall into a lower-income category. As of the year 2012, 79 percent of the organization’s patients earned $18,500 or less, placing them at 150 percent of the federal poverty level.
Even those who believe birth control to be a sin must acknowledge that low-cost, accessible cancer screening is a necessary service that is vital to the health of women all over the world. The problem with bills such as that headed to the desk of Kasich is that there is never common sense applied to their formation. Planned Parenthood is simply equated with evil so that supporters of the legislation need not think too hard or examine too closely that which they have condemned, nor do presidential candidate hopefuls vying for a primary win among conservative Republicans.
Editorial by Jennifer Pfalz
ABC News: The Latest: Planned Parenthood Blasts Bill Headed to Kasich
NPR: Fact Check: How Does Planned Parenthood Spend That Government Money?
GAO.gov: Health Care Funding: Federal Obligations to and Expenditures by Selected Entities Involved in Health-Related Activities, 2010–2012
Politifact: Fox Business reporter: 95% of Planned Parenthood’s ‘pregnancy services’ were abortions
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