Opinion: Defund Planned Parenthood? Be careful what you wish for

Half of all pregnancies in the U.S. each year are unintended.  That’s more than three million.

Planned Parenthood

Alessandra Soler

By age 45, over half of all American women will have experienced an unintended pregnancy. Three in 10 of those women will have had an abortion.  And that’s what ties both sides of the issue together: the fundamental truth that all of us want to prevent abortions.

The difference is how we go about making that happen.

Ironically, the recent spate of secretly-filmed-and-edited, difficult-to-watch “gotcha” videos are not about abortion. They’re issue clouders; simply a dishonest and inaccurate perception-shaping means to a bigger end to defund Planned Parenthood by eliminating federal funding which would create an even larger problem for the very people pushing the videos into the public spotlight.

Planned Parenthood

Ilana Addis

And, just to be clear: federal funds cannot be used for abortions.

As reported in The Week, Petula Dvorak pointed out in The Washington Post that, “if Planned Parenthood is defunded, it will lead to more abortions.” Dvorak wrote that abortions account for just 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s spending; the rest goes to help 2.5 million American women a year get birth control, cancer screenings, STI (sexually transmitted infections) testing and treatment.

The fact is: Planned Parenthood prevents more than 500,000 pregnancies a year.  How many of those would end up being terminated were it not for the contraceptives and other reproductive healthcare services provided by them?

Planned Parenthood

Kelly Fryer

We can give you a pretty good idea: an analysis of the benefits and cost savings of publicly funded family planning programs in the U.S. shows that contraceptive services, counseling and education prevented 2.2 million unintended pregnancies nationwide in 2010 and prevented 761,000 abortions.

In Arizona in 2014, AFHP-provided Title X reproductive healthcare services prevented an estimated 6,800 unintended pregnancies and 2,320 abortions.

The investment in those services resulted in an estimated net government savings of $13.6 billion, or $7.09 for every public dollar spent nationwide.  In Arizona, $11.27 was saved for every dollar invested.

Not to mention the lives that were saved through cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment and the thousands of healthy babies born to healthy moms through vital pre- and post-conception counseling and support services.

And therein lies the bigger point: the mission of the nearly 4,200 Title X-supported health centers nationwide is to reduce unintended pregnancies, improve birth outcomes, ensure that every pregnancy is healthy and intended and empower women around their healthcare.

Which gets us back to that fundamental truth we spoke of earlier and underscores our message to those who resort to deceitful tactics to push their own intolerant agendas:  be careful what you wish for.

Editor’s note: Brenda “Bré” Thomas is CEO, Arizona Family Health Partnership.  Ilana Addis, MD, MPH is chair, Arizona Section, American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Kelly Fryer is executive director, YWCA Southern Arizona. Alessandra Soler is executive director, ACLU of Arizona.




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