Since the only thing apparently holding up a deal to prevent a government shutdown is the GOP’s mulish insistence on de-funding Planned Parenthood, perhaps it’s time we all understood what Planned Parenthood actually does. Ezra Klein gives the explanation, with a chart.
[A]bortion services account for about 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s activities. That’s less than cancer screening and prevention (16 percent), STD testing for both men and women (35 percent), and contraception (also 35 percent). About 80 percent of Planned Parenthood’s users are over age 20, and 75 percent have incomes below 150 percent of the poverty line. Planned Parenthood itself estimates it prevents more than 620,000 unintended pregnancies each year, and 220,000 abortions. It’s also worth noting that federal law already forbids Planned Parenthood from using the funds it receives from the government for abortions.
So though the fight over Planned Parenthood might be about abortion, Planned Parenthood itself isn’t about abortion. It’s primarily about contraception and reproductive health. And if Planned Parenthood loses funding, what will mainly happen is that cancer screenings and contraception and STD testing will become less available to poorer people. Folks with more money, of course, have many other ways to receive all these services, and tend to get them elsewhere already.
The fight also isn’t about cutting spending. The services Planned Parenthood provides save the federal government a lot of money. It’s somewhat cold to put it in these terms, but taxpayers end up bearing a lot of the expense for unintended pregnancies among people without the means to care for their children. The same goes for preventable cancers and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.
That saves the state of Texas money, too. Not that any of the misogynists who are making these demands yet call themselves “fiscally conservative” care about that, of course. Over this wingnut wish list item they are willing to shut down the government – which, by the way, will also cost a ton of money. Among them are freshman CD27 Congressman Blake Farenthold. Makes you proud, doesn’t it? For more on what Planned Parenthood does, read this. A statement from Peter J. Durkin, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, on the subject of the shutdown is beneath the fold. Steve Benen, Matt Yglesias, RH Reality Check, and Feministing have more.
Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast (PPGC) released the following statement today after Congressional budget negotiations stall over women’s health.
“Shutting down the United States government over extremist ideology is an outrage,” said Peter J. Durkin, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast. “This extreme proposal would deny millions of women preventive health care including well woman exams, lifesaving cancer screenings, birth control, HIV tests and more.”
“Attacking Planned Parenthood’s preventive health care hurts women, does not cut the deficit or fix the economy, and must be stopped.”