On Jan. 5, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announced that Republicans planned to defund Planned Parenthood in a budget reconciliation bill that would also repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The GOP’s previous attempt to defund Planned Parenthood failed in 2015 when Barack Obama vetoed it. By tying the defunding of the health center to the ACA, Obama’s highly criticized health insurance plan, Republicans hope to pass the bill more easily. This budget reconciliation bill needs only a simple majority in the Senate as opposed to the typical three-fifths majority, and is not subject to filibusters. This creates a more likely chance that the bill will pass, considering many Republicans have been trying to repeal the ACA since it was passed, and would not go out of their way to protect Planned Parenthood’s funding. It is highly unlikely that the Trump administration will veto the bill, as Donald Trump has stated that repealing the ACA is his top priority. By defunding Planned Parenthood, the GOP will be taking away access to sexual and reproductive health care, leaving many without the essential care that they need.
Much of the support for the defunding of Planned Parenthood comes from Republican pro-life advocates that see Planned Parenthood only as an organization that performs abortions, when in reality the federal funding it receives is used for so much more. In 2014, Planned Parenthood received $553 million in federal funding, but a majority of this was reimbursement money for programs such as Medicaid. Planned Parenthood only receives federal funding under Title X and Medicaid. The 1976 Hyde Amendment prohibits the federal funding of abortion services. This amendment states that federal funds are not to be used for abortions except in the case of rape, incest, or the endangerment of the mother’s life. While Medicaid follows the Hyde Amendment’s guidelines, Title X can in no case be used to fund abortions. Two-thirds of Planned Parenthood patients rely on programs like Medicaid for health care. Abortions only make up 3% of services that Planned Parenthood provides. It also provides cancer screenings, STI testing, contraception care, and much more. By defunding the health center, the GOP would not be defunding solely abortions, but preventative care as well.
Planned Parenthood provides various reproductive and sexual health services to many people with low-incomes. Defunding this organization will leave many without easy access to a clinic, and will take away basic health care from many. Without federal funding, Planned Parenthood will not be reimbursed for providing fundamental sexual and reproductive health services to people with Medicaid and Title X grants. If Planned Parenthood has to shut down due to loss of federal funding, women will lose access to abortion services and the right to choose. By defunding Planned Parenthood, many women would be forced to travel for services as well. Since many of the health center’s patients receive healthcare through Medicaid, they more than likely cannot afford this travel and would risk going without essential healthcare. Many women, as well as men, will lose basic access to sexual and reproductive health care. If the GOP decides to defund Planned Parenthood, they would essentially be taking away necessary medical attention that people would not have been able to afford otherwise.
The Trump administration is unlikely to protect women’s health care as Trump states he is pro-life and his Vice President, Mike Pence, has led numerous attempts to defund Planned Parenthood throughout his career. Trump has stated that the first action he wants to take in office is to repeal and replace the ACA, so it can be presumed that this is his top priority no matter how he accomplishes it. Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood, stated that after Trump won the election, there was a 900% increase in women seeking appointments to IUDs, a long term form of birth control that lasts for up to 10 years. The IUDs are the chosen form of birth control because they could outlast a two-term Trump presidency. Richards also stated: “Regardless of what Paul Ryan says and what he does, we are not going away, and we are not going anywhere.”
The GOP’s argument is that Planned Parenthood offers abortions so they must be stopped. None of the federal funding they receive is allocated towards abortion procedures, so why should that make a difference? Planned Parenthood is not only an abortion provider. They provide both men and women with sexual health care, especially those who cannot afford it otherwise. Without this organization, many could be unknowingly carrying STD’s; unable to receive crucial cancer screenings; and having unwanted pregnancies because they could not afford the care that was necessary at the time of their needs. Defunding Planned Parenthood will cause more harm than good, and the GOP should keep in mind the 2.5 million people that would be without accessible care if the health center has to shut its doors.