Abbie Lauten-Scrivner is a journalism sophmore and Mustang News columnist. The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the viewpoints and editorial coverage of Mustang News.
This year, Planned Parenthood celebrates 100 years of progress in providing reproductive healthcare and education to women. The services Planned Parenthood offers are essential, as they often make the difference between life and death. This progressive commitment to women is a legacy of which to be proud. And as of this Tuesday, that legacy is under attack.
Despite the many vital services Planned Parenthood provides, it’s unsurprising that its future hangs in the balance essentially because of one very controversial issue: abortion. On the condition that Planned Parenthood continues to perform any form of abortion, President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence have repeatedly vowed to terminate its federal funding. This would mean a loss of about a third of Planned Parenthood’s revenue.
Though Trump concedes that Planned Parenthood is a positive force for women’s health, he is committed to scrapping federal funding solely because of abortion, a service that accounts for only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services. Trump’s commitment to the pro-life movement is a major appeal to many of his supporters. But enforcing his pledge to the pro-life cause by defunding Planned Parenthood does not make sense.
The absolute absurdity of this policy is that the taxpayer dollars of Title X are restricted by law from being used on abortion. Title X and Medicaid funds allow low-income patients access to information about their health, regardless of their socioeconomic status. Use of this money is unrelated to abortion. If Trump’s goal is to limit or exterminate abortion access, defunding Planned Parenthood would not be an effective move. It would not change how the organization pays for abortion, or incentivize its termination.
The reality is that cutting federal funding would accomplish something that nearly no one actually wants: the financial burden of supporting Planned Parenthood could fall more heavily upon states, abortion would still be legal and Planned Parenthood would still
The primary result of cutting federal funding is that low income Americans would be stripped of their accessibility to all of Planned Parenthood’s services — not just abortion. This would include cancer screenings, STI tests, pap smears, vaccinations and birth control. Patients who enjoy such preventative health care through Medicaid and the Title X Family Planning Program would be cut off from these resources. This applies to about a third of patients. Statistically speaking, it is these Americans who need their programs most. Denying these citizens trustworthy and affordable reproductive care puts women and their familiesin danger.
This is classist, inhumane and counterintuitive. In fact, it would cause more illness, more unplanned pregnancies and more unsafe abortions. All of this leads to further unnecessary financial strain. The preventative care women receive at Planned Parenthood actually saves money in publicly-subsidized medical care. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that cutting federal funding would cost taxpayers $650 million over the course of 10 years.
But in one of his final moves as president, Obama signed to protect Planned Parenthood’s Title X funding. This progressive rule will thwart attempts to deny women preventative healthcare from clinics that perform abortions. If this new rule survives its 30-day commentary period, it will be a major victory for the pro-choice cause.
Even though slightly less than half of America is pro-life, as of Tuesday it is this group who holds the law-making, law-interpreting and law-enforcing power. Republicans now dominate all three branches of government. Though not all conservatives are pro-life, the majority are. Pro-life leaders have called upon Congress and the entire movement to rise up against Obama’s recent “stunt.” With President-elect Trump’s commitment to this movement, Planned Parenthood’s future may still hang in the balance.
It is not just an organization that is being threatened, it is actual human beings. Defunding Planned Parenthood tells every woman who relies on its services that her health, her family and her life are not important.
When an issue as divisive and subjective as abortion is under attack, I see it as coming down to the individual’s right to choose for themselves. To deny millions of women this extremely personal choice simply because the other (less than) half finds it immoral is selfish and undemocratic. Trump’s plan and the agenda of nearly the entire GOP would strip millions of their bodily autonomy and control of their futures.
Forcing women into an unwanted pregnancy is extremely strenuous, disruptive and often traumatizing or physically dangerous. From the side of someone who is pro-choice, these oppressive restraints upon women who have no other option is not just immoral, it is criminal.