Planned Parenthood, is an American organization that provides reasonably priced healthcare to both men and women at clincs located in the United States, but they are most well-known throughout the country for their abortion services. They are, not for the first time, facing scrutiny and have been brought to the forefront of the news agenda.
Although abortions account for only 3% of all health services provided by the centres, according to their website, this service is the one most focused on by the right in political debates, particularly at this time in the election process.
This summer, a so-called ‘sting’ video was released, showing supposed staff members discussing money accrued through the process of donating fetal tissue for scientific research. The video claimed that the organisation was profiting off of these donations, leading to the widely publicised notion that Planned Parenthood was earning money by selling baby parts. In reality, the money from this process was reimbursement to cover the processing and transfer of the tissues, not for the foetal tissue itself. Investigations have found no evidence of illegal activity, but pro-life groups and Republican candidates continue to insist that Planned Parenthood profited from the donations.
Due to this controversy, a social and legislative battle has begun, with pro-choice groups fighting to keep Planned Parenthood’s government funding and pro-life groups fighting to cut it.
What most right wing groups are ignoring is the fact that this is a universal service for American women. The website not only lists abortion, but also birth control, body image services, general female health care, particularly menstrual health, morning-after pill and emergency contraception, pregnancy care, pelvic exams, pap tests, screenings for breast cancer and treatments to prevent cervical cancer.
For women who feel uncomfortable walking into one of the 700 health centers, owned by Planned Parenthood, due to frequent pro-life protesters outside, birth control and STD testing kits can be ordered online and shipped discretely to the specified address.
2.7 million women in the US visit Planned Parenthood centres anually whilst one in five US women will visit a centre at somepoint during their lifetime. Outside of the clinics, the organization provides education and outreach to more than five million people.
Planned Parenthood might be known most extensively for their abortion services, but their focus is primarily on prevention, with 80% of clients receiving services to prevent unintended pregnancies.
Despite the active claims that Planned Parenthood engages in illegal activity, the functioning facilities continue to provide 400,000 pap tests, 500,000 breast exams and help prevent 516,000 unintended pregnancies each year.
Planned Parenthood are far more than just an abortion clinic. We need them.