By Emily Moran and Nick Anstett
Elm Staff Writer and Opinion Editor
Ever since Roe v. Wade made abortion legal in the United States in 1973, the subject of abortion and its role in women’s health has been a subject for widespread debate. With the primaries for the 2016 presidential election rapidly approaching, the argument over the rights of unborn fetuses has reached a tipping point with a new target in their sights, Planned Parenthood.
Recently, the House of Representatives voted to pass a bill that would eliminate federal funding to Planned Parenthood for one year. Much of the recent backlash against Planned Parenthood is due to a video released by The Center for Medical Progress (CMP), an anti-abortion media source, which appeared to show the health organization selling aborted fetal tissue for profit. Despite the intense media controversy surrounding the video, an internal investigation conducted by Planned Parenthood published on Aug. 27 found that it had been heavily edited to support CMP’s political stance. According to Reuters, an investigation conducted by the Missouri Attorney General Chris Koter’s office supported Planned Parenthood’s version of events. This has not stopped several Republic presidential candidates, Ted Cruz and Carly Fiorna in particular, from making the defunding of the organization a political goal. Even though President Barack Obama has promised to veto the bill should it reach his desk, what does this mean for the future of women’s healthcare if one of those calling for the eradication of Planned Parenthood were to be elected?
Planned Parenthood is most widely known as an abortion provider. However, they also provide sexually transmitted disease and infection screening and treatments, cancer screenings, and many other important and financially affordable services for those in need. While 94 percent of Planned Parenthood services concern pregnancy, only 3 percent of conducted procedures are abortions. The funding that they receive from the government allows them to provide these essential services at a well attended and accessible facility. The accessibility and affordability of these facilities is an essential aspect of healthcare for women who are facing struggles during pregnancy.
Even if Planned Parenthood provided only abortion services, I would still want them to be able to keep their funding. A recent poll conducted by Quinnipiac University, found that I am not alone in this opinion with over 69 percent of Americans siding in favor of the organization regardless. Abortion is an essential option for women who cannot have children whether that be due to medical necessity, financial stability, or anything in between. Denying this service to women in need, especially those that cannot afford expensive procedures at hospitals or non-state funded clinics, poses extensive potential mental and physical health risks for women. In a study conducted by Obstetrics & Gynecology in 2011, it was found that 69 percent of women who receive abortions are economically disadvantaged. While individuals at any economic level can require an abortion, it these low income women, who would find themselves unable to afford alternative care, that would suffer the most should Planned Parenthood cease services. The Center for Disease Control has even found that the increased availability of pregnancy care has also lead to a decrease of abortions in both number and rate by 5 and 4 percent respectively between the years of 2010 and 2011.
Despite these facts, Cruz, Fiorna, and their supporters in the House of Reprsentatives continue to use the uproar surrounding the CMP video to stir support for the defunding of Planned Parenthood in Congress. According to CBS News, Cruz in particular has been linked to a letter circulating between representatives encouraging them to deny support to any government funding bill that supports the health organization. Highlighted in a piece by The Los Angeles Times, Republican members of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Fred Upton and Tim Murphy, alongside sympathetic Senators harassed Planned Parenthood partner, StemExpress, with copies of the CMP video until they withdrew funding.
This continual behavior of vehement anger towards Planned Parenthood by these members of the Republican Party, cannot help but breed concern regarding the results of the upcoming presidential election. If these politicians are willing to risk a governmental shutdown and ignore the opinions of the American people for the sake of a vendetta attached to a doctored video, it does not stand well for their ability to adequately govern our nation. Planned Parenthood and the benefits that it provides to individuals seeking dependable and affordable pregnancy healthcare are innumerable. Without the services they provide, we may in fact see an increase in abortion services and pregnancy related health issues. I’m sure that Cruz and his party members would be quick to agree that supporting the health of mother’s and their children should be a priority.