What’s the Plan with Planned Parenthood?

planned parenthood clinic
Planned Parenthood clinic || Image from Reuters

In America, an important focal point of all good policy is to advance the freedom of American citizens. Well, with tax payer money going towards Planned Parenthood, it is important to highlight why this is such an issue. To start with, right around 500 million dollars goes to Planned Parenthood, through Medicare, Medicaid and some direct funding. Planned Parenthood has been extremely controversial throughout the years.  They provide low-income individuals with access to health services that they could not otherwise afford. Now these things include contraceptives, breast cancer screenings, and of course, abortions.

Now, abortion has been the hot button area for many against Planned Parenthood. Seemingly all Americans support women’s health, but the country is divided in half on whether they believe in abortion. The argument against Planned Parenthood that could benefit the Republican Party is one that takes a different angle on Planned Parenthood and highlights economic freedoms that individuals feel deprived of when they are made to fund an organization that provides abortions.

All good policy in America should protect the individual and advance individual rights, but it seems that this may not be the case with Planned Parenthood. This is because Americans that have true moral or religious objections to abortion often feel like they are being forced to fund something they don’t support. Now, the defense against this is that the money doesn’t directly go towards abortion, which is factually true, but fails to see the grievance that people have against Planned Parenthood. Just because an organization does not directly put your money towards something you disagree with, does not make it any more moral. For example, if someone was donating their own money to a charity, and that charity ended up actively funding programs to discriminate against people of color, that person would naturally want to withdraw their money because they morally disagree with the organization’s actions. The organization could never state, “but your money doesn’t directly go towards discrimination” and get away with it.

The biggest problem with the idea of defunding Planned Parenthood is that they provide a lot of affordable healthcare access to Americans; they are a resource for teens and young adults everywhere. Though the rights of the taxpayer are important, it is also important to ensure that we do not jeopardize women’s health. An interesting idea, that is both progressive in scope, but pragmatic in practice would be to shift funding to an entirely different entity.

There are many roadblocks to another solution that has come up: the proposal of many to make Planned Parenthood into 2 separate organizations. The proposal would consist of one publicly funded organization without abortions, and one privately funded organization that provides abortions. Though, it seems Planned Parenthood and their supporters would not accept this sort of compromise. When asked about this proposal, the President of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, said that “Planned Parenthood would do no such thing,” even stating later that Planned Parenthood could “Win a culture war and have abortion widely acceptable in America.” This makes the idea of a bipartisan solution near impossible, if Planned Parenthood believes this is a culture war, and wants abortion more accepted, thus more prevalent, the conservative movement must take different actions to protect women’s healthcare and economic freedoms.

The biggest argument supporting Planned Parenthood is accessible cheap care for many low-income individuals, which could be strengthened if America decides to shift funding to federal healthcare centers. Now, these centers are already much more prevalent in the United States. It has been found that there are 13,000 federally qualified non-abortion providing healthcare centers. This is compared to only 665 available Planned Parenthood locations. These healthcare centers outnumber Planned Parenthood at just around 20 to 1. So, if the argument is availability and access to healthcare, the idea of federal healthcare facilities seems to fit the needs of people across the country and would be more acceptable to taxpayers across the board.

One objection to this would be the kinds of services offered. According to Planned Parenthood, they offer birth control, HIV testing, patient education and many things of that nature. So, how do federally qualified healthcare centers stack up against it? These healthcare centers are not only able to provide family planning, but they also provide dental care, general healthcare and behavioral care. So, in general the argument of access and variety of services favors Healthcare Centers. They are more prevalent in the United States and they offer more of a variety of services. So, America must take the next step forward to ensure that tax money that is getting spent is getting spent in a fiscally responsible and morally sound way.

In general, this plan sounds like a responsible solution to the idea of “taxpayer funded abortion,” but what is the first step to doing this? Well, the very first thing that would have to be done is a bill would have to be written to shift funding from Planned Parenthood to these Healthcare Centers. This bill would also have to include a section that gave patients of Planned Parenthood time to adapt and find their new healthcare facility that they would be using. This would mean that the users of the Medicare and Medicaid who also use Planned Parenthood would be given a grace period, so this way they could shift their needs to these facilities. Any excess funding should be used to cut tax expenditures, thus giving a break to many taxpayers across the country. With this sort of system set in place, Planned Parenthood would be free to focus more of their efforts on abortion and abortion referrals without using federal tax dollars. Part of the legislation should make it so the federal funding implies that the facilities that take advantage of it must not discriminate against low income households. It is important to be able to use this as a safety net, while the government and the country tries to tackle the more important issue of healthcare. This could be a very positive step towards creating a more freedom oriented healthcare system, but without cutting off people who are truly desperate for programs that Planned Parenthood currently provides. This would be a very cohesive system where abortion and abortion referrals would be privatized, but women’s healthcare would still be protected, but more responsibly funded.

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