For conservatives, the issue of defunding Planned Parenthood is not actually as easy as it sounds from 30,000 feet. From an economic standpoint, Planned Parenthood is actually a smart way to save money for the government. Yes you read that right. Funding Planned Parenthood is actually the fiscally responsible thing to do.
Of course, some conservatives refuse to admit this fact.
In a recent Huffington Post article, Jeffery Young explains that Republicans claim cutting off funding for Planned Parenthood “wouldn’t harm women’s health, because other medical providers would pick up the slack”.
First of all, if the goal is to continue providing medical care, and many Republicans are hoping or rather, banking on another health care provider to “pick up the slack”, why even impede the crucial role Planned Parenthood plays in health care in the first place?
Secondly, not to get into semantics, but “other medical providers” dictates that these Republicans deem Planned Parenthood a legitimate healthcare facility.
So is this attempt to defund the organization because of abortions, (something that comprises two percent of what Planned Parenthood does) really what Republicans are prioritizing?
Abortion and Planned Parenthood have become synonymous. Unfortunately, this misrepresentation of the organization has created an ideological controversy that has sent socially conservative Americans into a fit of resentment and disapproval for the healthcare organization.
Strange, considering the fact that Planned Parenthood is one of the most fiscally conservative organizations in this country that the government subsidizes.
Journalist Amanda Marcotte explained in Slate just how cost effective Planned Parenthood really is. It actually provides a solid return on investment:
“Planned Parenthood cost the government an average of $148 for a patient’s contraceptive care in a year, while other clinics spent $215 a year per patient. Just pushing contraceptive care for these patients from Planned Parenthood to other clinics would thus cost the government an additional $174 million a year”.
So it is clearly not about the money, right?
If it were, there is no way that these Republicans would want to do away with Planned Parenthood.
After all, the organization treats around 2.5 million men and women in a year, and there is no way any small clinic would have the capacity, or the desire to treat such an influx in patients.
Here is a segment from a letter the director of the non partisan Congressional Budget Office Keith Hall’s letter to former House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy about the repercussions of defunding Planned Parenthood:
“Because the costs of about 45 percent of all births are paid for by the Medicaid program, CBO estimates that additional births that would result from enacting such a bill would add to federal spending for Medicaid. In addition, some of those children would themselves qualify for Medicaid and possibly for other federal programs.”
The New England Journal of Medicine estimates that obstructing patients access to health care at Planned Parenthood would cause a 35 percent decline on Medicaid from using “the most effective methods of birth control and a dramatic 27 percent spike in births among women who had previous access to injectable contraception”.
Blocking women’s access to Planned Parenthood does not make a stand against abortion; it stands against providing and protecting women’s bodies.
This ideological debate does not consider the repercussions for a large percent of the population. It does not consider what will be taken from American citizens, and it does not reflect fiscal evidence that proves the economic downsides to defunding Planned Parenthood.
Most importantly, it will not even accomplish what it is set out to do, and that is preventing abortions.
Starting in 2014, The Atlantic published a shocking series of articles about “DIY” (Do It Yourself) abortions in Texas.
By 2015, Texas had shut down twenty-four abortion clinics; and is expected in 2016 to be closer to thirty-one clinics.
The purpose of these shut downs was to eliminate the possibility of having an abortion in Texas.
A woman would have to travel what New York Times reporter, Kim Soffen projected as 111 miles outside the average Texas county to get an abortion. These shut downs led to a severe increase in self-induced abortions.
The Atlantic, also found that “Between 100,000 and 240,000 Texas women between the ages of 18 and 49 have tried to end a pregnancy by themselves”, from a survey done by the Texas Policy Evaluation Project at the University of Texas.
Women were inducing abortions by taking the drug, Misoprostol, taking illicit drugs, using alcohol, and getting punched repeatedly in the abdomen; all because they did not have access to an abortion clinic.
When women’s access to contraception is obstructed, the rate of unwanted pregnancies increase. When abortion clinics that are equipped to safely perform the procedure are shut down, self-induced, unsafe abortions are performed.
Defunding Planned Parenthood will not stop abortions, if anything; it will cause unsafe attempts to harm the woman.
This impact is not limited to Texas.
In Utah, for example, defunding local Planned Parenthood clinics would cause 4,400 men and women to go without STD testing according to the state’s Department of Health– while 3,725 people with chlamydia or gonorrhea and their partners would not receive treatment at all.
In a recent New York Times column, Nicholas Kristoff reports that “American kids have sex as often as European kids but have babies three times as often as Spanish kids and eight times as often as Swiss kids.”
A lack of access to contraception is not going to keep individuals from having sex, it is solely going to cause individuals to have unprotected sex and result in possible pregnancies, possible STI’s, and if these clinic shut downs continue, possible self-induced abortions.
Abortions are going to happen whether we want them to or not.
Therefore, safe abortion clinics must stay open, access to contraception and health care must be available to everyone, and women’s health needs to be a priority.
And on the whole, Planned Parenthood is actually a pretty economically sound investment for the government to make. Budget hawks should be championing it and not trying to tear it down.
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Cover Photo Credit: Sarah Mirk/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)