History Of Planned Parenthood Essay

From the time its conception, the United States has taken pride in existing as a country for the people. The actions of both federal and state governments should subsequently reflect the eclectic needs of an expanding and diverse populace. In order to provide the very basic necessities for its citizens, the government has a fundamental obligation to ensure access to quality and comprehensive healthcare services, including those focused on sexual and reproductive health. This is typically accomplished through delegation to smaller nonprofit organizations, most notably the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA).

Though the beginning of a new presidency and reign of a majority-Republican Congress threatens to eradicate Planned Parenthood, the women’s health clinic should continue to receive federal funding to offer life-saving health care services and education, provide for underrepresented demographics, and ultimately benefit the national economy. Despite the GOP’s mudslinging “pro-life” campaign against the nonprofit, Planned Parenthood continues to administer vital healthcare services to Americans in need.

Most prominently, PPFA clinics offer affordable birth control, Pap smears for screening cervical cancer, life-saving abortions, breast exams, and STD tests to women, men, and young people alike. In the 100 years since nurse Margaret Sanger created the organization, the growth and expansion of Planned Parenthood, originally called the American Birth Control League, is testament to thes success and growing need for accessible reproductive health services in the United States (Alter).

The organization has become practically ubiquitous as, following the current trend, 1 in every 5 American women will utilize the services offered by Planned Parenthood at some point in her life (Ernst). This is possible, according to the official PPFA website, through “56 independent local affiliates and 650 clinics currently in operation around the country to provide access to quality healthcare and educational services” (“Planned Parenthood at a Glance”). These clinics should receive government funding in order to continue serving the fundamental health care needs of the people, the same mission the organization has upheld since its founding in the 1920’s.

Without the assistance of Planned Parenthood and other similar network organizations, a large portion of patients would not have access to high-quality, comprehensive healthcare. Of the 2. 7 million Americans who benefit from Planned Parenthood, a large majority come from low-income families or neighborhoods; consequently, over half of PPFA clinics are located in underrepresented sectors in order to cater to the needs of the impoverished and marginalized (Mitts & Attanasio).

This accessibility is especially important in a time when the chief support of health care, hospitals and family doctors, are increasingly moving away from poorer areas, where the most needy often live. Planned Parenthood ventures to eliminate the apparent correlation between affluence and health through targeting low-income areas. Of those benefiting from PPFA, CNN Correspondents Goldshmidt and Strickland wrote, “Nearly 80% had incomes at or below 150% of the federal poverty level”, as cited in a March Government Accountability Office Report (Goldshmidt & Strickland).

Those poverty-stricken and unable to afford health insurance are still able to receive services from Planned Parenthood at severely reduced prices based on income level and determined by Title X’s sliding discount fee scale. Title X is the only government-funded grant program dedicated strictly to family planning and reproductive health services for low-income and uninsured patients, and it allocates a quarter of its funding to Planned Parenthood (Bassett). Extensive government financial support through longstanding and successful programs such as Title X allows PPFA to each and serve a wide demographic of patients that traditional health clinics can and do not.

Thus, “defunding” of the organization at the federal and state level would cause serious jeopardy to the millions of people, particularly low-income, who trust and rely upon it. In addition to its health care services, Planned Parenthood also focuses on providing resources for sex education in public schools. PPFA “promotes the idea that knowledge empowers people to make healthy decisions” through encompassing educational courses about all aspects of reproductive health (“Educations Programs”).

Starting as young as middle school, PPFA has implemented tools to assist public school instructors in fostering an accepting and open environment for discussion about sexual health, an issue that closely affect teenagers. To do so, Planned Parenthood offers professional development resources for health educators, including activities and lessons, books, curricula and manuals, digital tools, pamphlets, research papers, videos, and other websites, through which to evaluate and improve their skills (“Resources”).

These resources are not only providing information, but making an apparent difference; Planned Parenthood, in association with the Wellesley Centers for Women, implemented and evaluated the Get Real Program, a unique set of curricula with a focus on social and emotional skills that play a prominent role in decision making during the teenage years. The program also has expanded outside of the classroom through homework assignments that encourage open conversation with parents and family members.

Although seemingly simple, the program yielded real results; Of the 24 schools evaluated as part of the Get Real program, Berenson explains, ‘16% fewer boys and 15% fewer girls had sex’ (Berenson). Through exemplified initiatives such as Get Real, Planned Parenthood is able to reach outside of the clinic and into the community. The government is not only funding the critical care for millions of Americans that visit PPFA clinics, but also education for young people to increase awareness and eradicate issues before adulthood.

In addition, not only is Planned Parenthood providing vital services for men and women who would otherwise go without, but governmentfunded family planning ultimately benefits the national economy. By enabling women to plan and space out their pregnancies appropriately through use of birth control, they are more able to attain a high education level and compete in skilled job fields dominated by men, such as law and medicine. This access to education inevitably leads to an increase in wages, lifetime earnings, and family income (Flynn).

Flynn elaborates, “Children born after the advent of federally funded family-planning programs lived in households with higher annual incomes and were 5 percent less likely to live in poverty, 15 percent less likely to live in households receiving public assistance, and 4 percent less likely to have a single parent” (Flynn). Not only are Planned Parenthood services offering healthcare to people in poverty but also making progress towards lifting them out of it.

Individual families benefit from PPFA in addition to the United States economy as a whole. For approximately every dollar spent on publicly funded family planning services, seven dollars and 9 cents are saved in public expenditures, which contribute to the estimated $15 billion that could be saved from preventing all unintended pregnancies (Flynn). This money can then be reinvested into the economy to continue improving health education measures and accessibility to quality care.

Although Planned Parenthood provides a variety of life-saving reproductive health services to people of all backgrounds and income-levels, Conservative Republicans continue to vigilantly fight to defund the nonprofit’s programs. GOP leaders largely cite the fact that Planned Parenthood provides abortion to patients in need, which contradicts their “pro-life” stance. However, according to the official pie chart titled “Affiliate Medical Services Data”, only 3 percent of PPFA funds are allocated directly towards funding abortions (Begley).

Critics again attack this statistics for being ‘deceiving’ because Planned Parenthood officially counts abortion in the same way as it counts a pregnancy test or a Pap smears; PPFA derives its percentages from the total number of all services provided, despite how insignificant the service might be. However, no matter how it is construed, 97 percent of Planned Parenthood services are directly improving the health of millions of women through STI/STD testing and treatment, contraceptives, cancer screenings, and other services (Begley).

In addition, Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren states, “For almost 40 years, the Federal Government has prohibited funding for abortions except in the case of rape, incest, or life endangerment” (Ernst). Therefore, although critics of PPFA rally to defund the organization from receiving money from the government, those federal funds in no way pay for abortions, but rather solely support critical exams and procedures. Critics also argue that government funding allocated to Planned Parenthood should be simply redirected towards other organizations that provide similar services, however, there are not enough other providers to assume the 2. million patients served by PPFA in 2014 alone (Ernst); Flynn writes that, “defunding the organization would place an ‘untenable stress’ on the community health centers conservative lawmakers say could manage the overflow” (Flynn).

The realm of patients that Planned Parenthood serves is too diverse to simply cut and redistribute while maintaining the same quality of care, affordability, and accessibility for all. Despite incessant controversy surrounding the nonprofit healthcare organization, Planned Parenthood Federation of America provides crucial health care services to millions of men and women in the United States.

In order to uphold its status as a country and government build to serve its people, the federal government should support the positive resources PPFA contributes to American sexual and reproductive healthcare. Though antiabortion movements stringently argue against the actions of Planned Parenthood, the health clinic should continue to receive federal government funding in order to provide integral health care services and education to people of all backgrounds and income-levels while benefiting the national economy.