Why Planned Parenthood’s Funding is a Human Rights Issue

In a recent blog post, I talked about some ways to be an advocate for human rights. The overarching theme of these tips was to educate yourself in order to educate others. To keep up with that theme and our mission here at Woodhull to affirm sexual freedom as a fundamental human right, we need to talk about the recent House vote on Planned Parenthood.

The possibility of Planned Parenthood losing government funding is a human rights issue. Millions of women rely on Planned Parenthood for contraception, cancer screenings, STI testing, and other health services. For some of these women, Planned Parenthood is their only option. Denying their access to healthcare is violating the human right to a happy and healthy body.

Members of Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and more than 20 other organizations hold a "Stand Up for Women's Health" rally in supporting preventive health care and family planning services, including abortion in Washington April 7, 2011. Photo credit: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Members of Planned Parenthood, NARAL Pro-Choice America and more than 20 other organizations hold a “Stand Up for Women’s Health” rally in supporting preventive health care and family planning services, including abortion in Washington April 7, 2011. Photo credit: REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Here’s what happened on the Hill:

On Friday, the House of Representatives voted to freeze federal funding for Planned Parenthood. The bill has yet to pass in the Senate, and President Obama has said that he supports Planned Parenthood and would veto a bill that ends federal funds to Planned Parenthood and creates new restrictions on abortion.

While the reality of an end to government funding for Planned Parenthood is not imminent, it’s a call to action and a cry for the work to be done.

Why is the government even considering defunding Planned Parenthood?

By now, you have probably heard of the infamous sting videos that supposedly show Planned Parenthood illegally handles fetal tissue. Here are some facts about these videos:

The argument happening in Congress is about abortion and fetal tissue research.

Let’s get some facts straight about those issues as well:

  • Abortion-related services made up only 3% of the services Planned Parenthood provided last year. Here’s a detailed run-down of how Planned Parenthood spends government money.
  • Title X does not allow for federal funds to be used for abortions, and Medicaid only allows for this in very restricted cases.
  • Less than 1% of Planned Parenthood’s nearly 700 health centers are involved in tissue donations for fetal tissue research. (Here is the law concerning legal fetal tissue donations, which Planned Parenthood says they follow “scrupulously.”) 
Photo Credit: Guttmacher Institute
Photo Credit: Guttmacher Institute

The debate happening in Congress has very little to do with the majority of what Planned Parenthood does for women of the United States: provide health care.

  • Planned Parenthood’s survival is about economic justice; women of all socioeconomic backgrounds have the right to comprehensive health care. Planned Parenthood is the only place for that in many communities throughout the United States.
  • It’s also about reproductive justice, which includes the mental, physical, spiritual, and social well-being of women. Planned Parenthood is an organization that helps women choose their own reproductive destiny, which is a human right.

“We can have an honest conversation about whether abortion should be safe and legal in this country, but you should not come at it dishonestly, with patently false statements about what Planned Parenthood does,” said Dawn Laguens, Executive Vice President of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, in a letter to Carly Fiorina. She has invited Fiorina to visit a Planned Parenthood Health Center.

Here’s what you can do to #StandwithPP and fight for reproductive justice:

  1. As stated above, Carly Fiorina has been invited to visit a Planned Parenthood health center and see for herself what’s wrong with the services provided. Tell her that you would like her to accept the invitation through Planned Parenthood’s campaign here.
  2. Thank President Obama for standing with Planned Parenthood, and remind him that holding his ground is saving millions of women from losing access to basic health care needs.
  3. Check out Planned Parenthood’s state-by-state advocacy information to get involved locally.
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