The Republican-lead Congress is moving to defund Planned Parenthood, which receives approximately $500 million a year in federal money, largely through Medicaid reimbursements, for its health services. A judge blocked a plan to cut funding for Planned Parenthood from Medicaid in Texas, and other challenges are expected.
Planned Parenthood has provided reproductive health care in the U.S. for over 100 years, starting in New York in 1916 as a birth control clinic run by Margaret Sanger. It has been controversial and had to survive legislative and legal attacks from the onset. Despite challenges, Sanger’s American Birth Control League spread. They opened a clinic in Harlem in 1930 to assist black women with no access to health services during the Depression. The organization became Planned Parenthood in 1942 and continued to expand nationally and worldwide.
In 1970, the organization began received federal money to serve lower-income women. They have been prohibited from using those public funds for abortion services since 1976.
Today, Planned Parenthood and affiliates operate more than 650 clinics in 12 countries. They are the largest provider of reproductive health services in the U.S., particularly for those who have no other access. An estimated 75 percent of their patients are at or below 150 percent of the U.S. poverty level. Teenagers make up 16 percent of the clients.
Planned Parenthood claims that only 3 percent of its services are abortions, reflecting the national statistics that indicate the abortion rate has declined considerably.
Reportedly 34 percent of the organization’s patients seek contraception. This is believed to protect against the need for 200,000 more abortions a year.
Planned Parenthood’s largest number of services provided (42 percent), according to their 2013-2014 annual report, is testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and infections. In 2014 alone, they provided 4.2 million tests and treatment for infections and conditions, including HIV. Accordingly, they now serve a higher percentage of male patients.
The political quagmire
While federal funding helps Planned Parenthood serve an estimated 2.5 million men and women a year in the U.S., the organization does rely on private donations to recoup the difference between the reimbursement rates and their actual costs. Only 10 percent of Medicaid costs are borne by states. Losing the federal monies would severely impact those low-income patients on Medicaid who may not have alternative access to affordable reproductive care (particularly if the Affordable Care Act is repealed).
Anti-abortion activists are urging President Trump to curb federal funding to Planned Parenthood. The Republican Congress has moved toward defunding Planned Parenthood. The actual legislation withholds funds from facilities that provide abortion services, which would include the organization. Defunding would preclude women from receiving health screenings, family planning, birth control, and other services.
The Obama administration prevented states from withholding federal grants to facilities that provide family planning. However, many expect Congress or the current White House to take action against that.
In December, Texas officials announced they would cut funding from Medicaid for Planned Parenthood services. On February 21, a federal judge issued an injunction against the move.
Several other states, mostly in the South, have recently attempted to defund monies going to the organization, too. For the past few decades, various other states have taken actions to curb funding for abortions and clinics that provide them. While state funding is a small amount of the Planned Parenthood Medicaid reimbursement, the reduced funding would have an impact on the organization.
It should be noted that the majority of Americans are not in favor of cutting federal funding for Planned Parenthood, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. They found that 62 percent of U.S. voters are opposed to cutting federal funding. That number jumped to 80 percent opposed if federal money was used only for nonabortion services, which is actually the case.
Reuters: U.S. judge blocks Texas plan to cut Planned Parenthood Medicaid funds
CBS News: Could Planned Parenthood survive without federal funds?
Washington Post: For Planned Parenthood abortion stats, ‘3 percent’ and ’94 percent’ are both misleading
Quinnipiac University: Use A Scalpel, Don’t Amputate Obamacare, U.S. Voters Tell Quinnipiac University National Poll