Planned Parenthood received a major setback on Thursday when the U.S. Senate voted to advance a bill dismissing a rule signed by President Barack Obama that prohibited states from keeping federal funds out of the coffers of Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, reports USA Today. The repeal of this Obama-era law, which went into effect only two days before President Trump was sworn in on January 20, has sparked a renewed debate on the function and necessity of Planned Parenthood.
Much of the political debate surrounding Planned Parenthood is centered around the question of whether the federal government should be funding the organization using taxpayer dollars. However, it is imperative to look at the organization and its practices as such, to determine whether it even deserves to exist at all. Both pro-choice and pro-life advocates will benefit from taking a good, hard look at this particular organization and the work that it does.
Proponents of funding Planned Parenthood justify their position by pointing not only to the organization’s performance of abortion services but also to the fact that they offer free or low-cost cancer screenings, ultrasounds, and other essential healthcare services to women in need. They argue that without government funding for Planned Parenthood, an essential community bedrock would be lost.
Opponents of funding argue that American taxpayers should not be forced to pay for something that they may be morally against. Although the Hyde Amendment made it illegal for taxpayer money to be directly used to fund abortion, that money is still being used to support these services indirectly. This is because government money that is allocated to Planned Parenthood’s non-abortion services helps to free up cash that can then be used to fund abortion.
What both sides fail to address are the specific attributes of Planned Parenthood as an organization. To those who are pro-funding, I ask, “what makes Planned Parenthood in particular an organization worthy of government funding? And what makes them worthy of your support?” To those who are anti-funding, I ask, “is taxpayer money really your only concern? Are you okay with this organization existing independent of taxpayer funding?”
The fact is, there is evidence that points to Planned Parenthood being not just an organization that provides abortions, but also a business that profits from them and pushes them on vulnerable young women.
Over the years, there have been accusations of Planned Parenthood employing abortion quotas and even promoting the coercion of abortion. Each of these claims has been accompanied by video evidence and substantiated by employee testimony. In an undercover video released to Fox News, a Planned Parenthood staff member can be seen attempting to talk a young woman into abortion, dramatizing the difficulties of childcare and conveying scientifically inaccurate information about the fetus. National Review reports that Planned Parenthood staff were trained to convince women to choose abortion and were rewarded with paid time off and awards for meeting and exceeding abortion quotas. A former Planned Parenthood nurse explains,
“I felt like I was more of a salesman sometimes, to sell abortions. We were constantly told we have quotas to meet to stay open.”
Supporters of Planned Parenthood must critically ask themselves if this is really the organization that deserves their support. There are free and low-cost clinics that offer non-abortion healthcare services that deserve the support of anyone who truly cares about women’s health. There are also plenty of abortion clinics and hospitals that are not facing the grave accusations of corruption that seem to surround Planned Parenthood.
To the pro-lifers who support depriving Planned Parenthood of federal funds, I say that we must push our efforts one step further. We must urge our government to investigate and potentially dissolve this organization, which has been repeatedly accused of unethical behavior. Government funding is not the only issue.
While these accusations have, predictably, been contested by Planned Parenthood, they need and deserve a federal investigation to determine their veracity. If a government investigation determines that Planned Parenthood is guilty of employing abortion quotas or incentives for employees to coerce patients into abortion, the organization should be immediately disbanded.
If Planned Parenthood is eliminated, it is incumbent upon our government to replace the essential health services upon which low-income women currently rely. Supporters of Planned Parenthood are not wrong when they say that this organization provides a lifeline for women in need of medical testing and birth control. Therefore, I propose that President Trump and Congress work to “repeal and replace” Planned Parenthood.
Without Planned Parenthood, many women may be left without a local women’s healthcare facility. According to The Hill, pro-life groups are calling on Congress to redirect funds currently earmarked for Planned Parenthood to community health centers that do not provide abortions. However, The Hill claims that one-fifth of the counties that contain a Planned Parenthood facility do not have a federally qualified health clinic, citing estimates made by the Congressional Budget Office. If this is true, President Trump and Congress must do more to ensure that vulnerable women are not left without low-cost healthcare options.
If President Trump wants to win the respect of conservatives, he needs to lead the charge to open an investigation into Planned Parenthood and facilitate actions that remove funding and perhaps totally dismantle this corrupt organization.
If our president wants to win the respect of intellectually honest liberals and of women on both sides of the aisle, he must lead efforts to establish a new organization that could fill the void that would inevitably be left behind by dismantling Planned Parenthood. The Planned Parenthood replacement organization would need to avoid abortion but provide essential health functions such as cancer screenings, STD testing, prenatal services, and birth control distribution.
[Featured Image by Brennan Linsley/AP Images]