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Planned Parenthood fails in response to critics

I was driving up Monroe Street a few weeks ago and happened to notice a billboard for Planned Parenthood. The ad focused on a woman with, presumably, her husband. The board said something to the effect of, “somebody’s life was saved because they had their annual exam.”
Planned Parent is best known for its abortion services, a fact they are well aware of. Consequently, whenever the organization comes under fire, they respond not by addressing the abortion issue, but by hiding behind the other services, such as breast cancer exams, they provide.

When Mitt Romney recently suggested the government cease giving money to Planned Parenthood as a way to ease spending, the Democratic National Committee rushed to attack. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chair of the DNC, defended Planned Parenthood as a “90-year-old organization that one in five American women has depended on for health care, and that for many women is their only option for cancer screenings, clinical breast exams, and critical preventive care,” according to Kathryn Lopez of National Review.

In December, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation, the nation’s largest breast cancer advocacy group, decided to cease providing funding to Planned Parenthood due to its provision of abortion and certain birth control services. While Komen for the Cure tried to keep the issue quiet so as not to reflect badly on Planned Parenthood, it was not to be. President of Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards objected, stating that the foundation’s decision to “end its support of lifesaving breast cancer screening at Planned Parenthood health centers comes as a blow to women across America.” In the face of intense backlash, the foundation eventually reversed its decision to withdraw its funding.

When Congress considered cutting government funding for Planned Parenthood last year, the response was much the same. This time, Richards listed mammograms as one of the critical services provided by Planned Parenthood that evil Republicans were trying to eliminate. However, the organization had to do some fancy footwork when it came out that they did not actually provide mammogram services, according to Rob Stein of the Washington Post.

Simply put, Planned Parenthood uses the issue of women’s health to play off of people’s fears and sympathies, instead of addressing the real issue: abortion.

While the organization downplays abortion, stating that it represents only three percent of their services, the facts are a little different. First off, regardless of how you run the numbers, Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest provider of abortions. The organization itself reported that they performed 329,445 abortion procedures in 2010. Even as the total number of abortions has decreased, the number being performed by Planned Parenthood has steadily increased.

As a side note, Planned Parenthood makes so few referrals to adoption agencies that they do not even bother to list the number anymore. The last reported number of referrals was only about 1,400.

Furthermore, Charlotte Allen of the Weekly Standard estimates that, even if they technically represent a small percentage of total procedures, abortions provide well over a tenth of Planned Parenthood’s total revenue, and over a third of the income to its local clinics. Clearly, Planned Parenthood has a vested financial interest in seeing abortion continue.

No one is saying that Planned Parenthood does not provide some services that are valuable and important. No one criticizing Planned Parenthood is calling for an end to breast cancer exams. Yet Planned Parenthood’s only response to criticism is to shower its opponents with groundless accusations about how much they hate women.

There is plenty of room to criticize Planned Parenthood. However, for them to ignore the issue of abortion is highly disingenuous. If they are going to provide abortion services, they should be able to defend them honestly.

Nelsen is a senior majoring in political science. Comments can be sent to [email protected].

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  • A

    AngieApr 16, 2012 at 8:37 am

    Well, Abortion is legal. I’m also fairly offended that after all of the crazy legislation against women coming from the states, that you really think that there isn’t a war on women going on. Since when is it alright for the government to force a woman to be penetrated by a cold ultrasound instrument, or forced to carry an stillborn child to term therefore endangering her own life? Since when are my genitals a concern to stuffy congressmen?
    As far as a vested financial interest: it costs more money to give abortions simple as that. They are also a non-profit organization, so the profit they make off of abortions isn’t really a salient issue.

    The fact that their ad’s don’t advertise abortions is mainly because that’s not their main goal as a company. They don’t advertise abortions because they’d rather give a woman a pap and then birth control: at least some sort of sexual education.
    They also do offer counseling services to pregnant woman to look at all of their options.

    I conclude with Abortions are legal. Also that I think it’s a little presumptuous for you, a man, to tell me what to do with what’s in my uterus. If your girlfriend got pregnant right now (not that she will, just hypothetical) what serious consequences would you have? As a man you could leave her and just have some money taken from your check every month while you continue living your life. She will have 9 months of pain and mood swings and then about 18 years of never having her own life again. Not to say that you would ever leave your girl if she got pregnant, I know that you wouldn’t. But that is the reality for so many women and should it really be up to you to decide her life? It’s not her fault that she never received any kind of sexual education and didn’t know how to prevent pregnancy.

    Also your article just assumes that abortion is wrong. I think it’s a bit more grey than that black and white.

    • M

      MaxApr 17, 2012 at 3:27 am

      Hey Angie,Thanks for the comment.

      Well, first off, I never said there wasn’t a war on women (though I don’t think there is). The bill about carrying stillborns to term is unfortunate, if true. I believe the one you’re referring to HB954 in Georgia. Though it passed the Georgia House, it is not law. Also, my understanding of the bill (correct me if I’m wrong) was that it required women to carry fetuses that were likely to die until they actually did.

      Second, just because Planned Parenthood is a non-profit does not mean that they are not concerned about funding. People still earn their salaries working there. Even non-profits want to expand their reach and influence. And abortion plays a significant role in their fundraising.

      Third, I wasn’t criticizing them for not advertising abortions. I just used the example to get the article started.

      Fourth, the options they provide to women apparently don’t include adoption.

      Fifth, I don’t see how being a man disqualifies me from weighing in on the issue. I’m not telling anyone what to do. Heck, I didn’t even say abortion was wrong, though I am against it. All I’m saying for the purposes of this article is that Planned Parenthood needs to at least honestly answer its critics, instead of twisting the arguments to illegitimately disparage their opponents.

      Apart from the article, abortion opponents are not out to get women. They just view the fetus as having significant value. They wouldn’t say that a woman’s concerns do not matter. They would just argue that the value of the human life (or at the very least the potential life) existing within her outweighs her discomforts. It’s about protecting the fetus, not inconveniencing the woman.

      Anyway, hope you’re doing well in Europe!

  • A

    AllieApr 15, 2012 at 11:50 pm

    Most women’s health clinics offer annual exams to low income women for free.

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Planned Parenthood fails in response to critics