The GOP vs Planned Parenthood – The Bigger Issue

Ohio Gov. and Republican presidential candidate, John Kasich, signed a bill on Sunday, Feb. 21 that blocks governmental funds from going to any organization that performs or promotes abortions – effectively defunding Planned Parenthood in the state of Ohio.

Though the bill does not directly mention Planned Parenthood, it does strip the nonprofit of $1 million of funding. This does not come as a surprise, as the governor expressed outrage at videos released last summer accusing Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue obtained from abortions. The accusations were never firmly proven true or false, but it sparked heated debate between Republicans and Democrats on whether the government should be providing funds to the organization.

The most common GOP argument against the funding of Planned Parenthood is that the government should not be funding abortions. But there is a key element the GOP is missing.

In 2014, according to its annual budget summary, Planned Parenthood only used three percent of its budget for abortion services. Furthermore, many state and federal laws, most notably the Hyde Amendment Codification Act (1963), prohibit government dollars being used to fund abortions, except in case of rape, incest, or a threat to the mother’s life.

I know what you’re thinking. If those “taxpayer dollars” Kasich took away from Planned Parenthood weren’t funding abortions, what did they go towards?

42 percent of Planned Parenthood’s 2013-2014 budget was spent on the treatment and prevention of STDs and STIs. 34 percent was spent on contraception. Both of these services are offered to both women and men. The other 21 percent was spent on other women’s services- including cancer screening and rape counseling.

By defunding Planned Parenthood, states are not preventing abortions. They are depriving women of a safe place where they can receive health care that they otherwise cannot afford. In many states, women now have to drive more than two hours to have an annual gynecologist visit or receive birth control.  Oh, and that GOP exception that morally justifies abortion in cases of rape?

In the 2016 documentary ,“Trapped,” Marva Sadler,  a clinical director at a woman’s health clinic, explained that she once encountered a 13 year old rape victim who had traveled four hours to the only abortion clinic that would accept her. She was so close to the legal term limit at which a woman can have an abortion in Texas that, in order to have the procedure, she would have to be put to sleep. However, abortion clinics have trouble hiring nurses with that certification in Texas because of strict laws regarding such clinics, and thus no one on staff could see her.

“There was nothing I could do to save her,” Sadler said. “If she has a procedure, and that if is huge, she’ll have to go all the way to New Mexico and pay $5,000… It’ll never happen.”

Because of laws similar to the one recently signed by Kasich in Ohio, a child who was a victim of rape was forced to have a child of her own.

Abortions, while unpleasant to think about, are only a small fraction of the services Planned Parenthood provides for women. And when people lose access to contraceptives, they stop using them – allowing for more unwanted pregnancies and, in turn, more abortions… Exactly what the GOP is trying to avoid.

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Featured photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.

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