The House Judiciary Committee has voted 241 to 187 to defund Planned Parenthood of approximately 500 million dollars for federal family planning a year. According to a report last week by Mother Jones, the move to defund Planned Parenthood was a reaction to a series of ‘undercover sting videos’ showing employees of Planned Parenthood allegedly discussing illegal sales of fetal tissue. Doing so is illegal and a violation of federal law. However, after the House Judiciary Committee held several hearings about these, evidence has surfaced that these videos were created by an anti-abortion group called Center for Medical Progress. The videos were found to be heavily edited and no evidence of illegal activity at Planned Parenthood has been found. The 500 million dollars Planned Parenthood currently receives from the government yearly is not allowed to be used for abortions. Instead, the money from the government is allocated for family planning and reproductive health services for women with lower income and women on Medicaid. Conservative lawmakers have circulated lists of other family planning providers women could use instead of Planned Parenthood. However not all other family planning services provide STI screenings, contraception, or accept Medicaid, according to the same Mother Jones report.
The Foghorn staff wants to address several topics regarding the move to defund Planned Parenthood. The investigation carried out by the Center for Medical Progress and conservatives in the House Judiciary Committee seemed to reflect an extreme concern for the legality of Planned Parenthood’s abortion clinics. While there is clear evidence that Planned Parenthood is not illegally selling their aborted fetuses, perhaps it would be wiser if the non-profit organization were more open about what they did with the fetuses. This might be an effective way to prevent suspicion from people who believe Planned Parenthood to be carrying out illegal activities, particularly regarding abortion.
Evidently, it is difficult not to discuss abortion when the topic of Planned Parenthood comes up. The Foghorn staff agrees that it is a woman’s decision whether or not she wants an abortion and not the federal government’s. We also acknowledge that abortion is a very controversial topic that people on both sides of the debate feel very passionately about. However, we would like to shift the focus to the list of other essential services that Planned Parenthood provides outside of abortion. We believe that Planned Parenthood serves an essential role in the practice of safe sex. Most college students use Planned Parenthood for birth control plans and general women’s health services. Those services include testing for sexually transmitted diseases, and cancer screenings. Defunding Planned Parenthood means thousands of women across the United States will lose access to these vital services. In fact, the loss of access to these services (like birth control) could increase the need for young women to need healthcare services like abortion. We believe everyone has the right to have accessible healthcare and defunding Planned Parenthood is a hinderance to that right.