“Contraceptives unlock one of the most dormant, but potentially powerful assets in development: women as decision-makers. When women have the power to make choices about their families, they tend to decide precisely what demographers, economists, and development experts recommend. They invest in the long-term human capital of their families.”– Melinda Gates
I have just one question this week. How in the actual hell is the need for affordable women’s healthcare making headlines and still up for debate in this country?
Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised. After all, the U.S. lags pathetically behind most of the rest of the entire world when it comes to maternity leave, so I guess I should just accept that a segment of our government (and, by proxy, the part of the population that votes these jerks people into office) gives zero shits when it comes to the health of our nations’ women and children, especially the poor ones.
In case you are somehow part of the poorly informed part of the public who thinks that Planned Parenthood’s services are focused on the promotion of abortions and that taxpayer monies should be directed elsewhere, let me drop a few facts for you. Yay facts! And statistics too! Read on:
Yes, Planned Parenthood receives upward of $500,000 annually from the federal government. And the majority of that money is actually Medicaid reimbursement for services rendered. And Medicaid doesn’t generally reimburse for pregnancy terminations. And as Cecile Richardson, the President of Planned Parenthood, said during this week’s witch hunt appearance in front of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, “We don’t make any profit off of federal money.” So what does that money go to, you ask?
The segment of their services that is associated with abortions is only 3%. THREE PERCENT, hello!!
The largest segment of their services (42%) is for the testing, diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). I don’t know about you, but getting those services to people of reproductive age seems relatively important to me.
Numbers from 2010-2012 indicate that 34% of the services provided were related to contraception, broken down as follows:
Reversible female contraception – 2.1 million patients
Short term female contraception – 1.4 million patients
Vasectomies (yes! Dudes use Planned Parenthood too!) – 4,166 patients
Female sterilization – 822 patients
Those numbers above correlate to an estimated prevention of 516,000 unintended pregnancies per year.
Guess what else Planned Parenthood does? They provide approximately 400,000 Pap smears annually! And 500,000 breast exams! Yay for women’s health, early detection and treatment!
Who does Planned Parenthood provide these services to? Well, yours truly, when I was a poor college student and then a poor graduate student with insufficient insurance to cover annual exams or birth control. My income, at the time that I used Planned Parenthood’s services, was between $5,000 and $18,000 annually. So who else do they serve? The numbers I found indicated that 80% of Planned Parenthood’s patients had incomes that were at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. In case you don’t know, that’s about $30,000 annually for a family of 3.
So it’s not about abortion or the selling of the body parts of fetuses. By the way, if you still believe the heavily edited video purporting the selling of fetal body parts, please please please do some fact checking. About 1% of Planned Parenthood’s facilities donate fetal tissue (not body parts…just cells) for research, with the woman’s consent for donation, and the “money” they were supposedly making? Nominal fees, just to cover the handling, preservation and shipment.
I’ve changed my Facebook profile pink in support of Planned Parenthood and all the services they provide to keep women affordably healthy. And even though the conservatives, according to the news today, have relented in their pursuit to de-fund Planned Parenthood, I’m going to leave that pink profile up for a few more days to show my support.
Regardless on where you fall on the pro-choice/pro-life spectrum, I hope you will take the time to understand the totality of services provided and to what segment of our population and understand the whole picture.