Augustine: Defunding Planned Parenthood hurts marginalized communities

Kathryn Augustine, Op-Ed Contributor

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The Trump administration announced Feb. 22 that organizations providing abortion referrals will face an end to federal funding from Title X. This will effectively promote the funneling of funds to conservative, strictly pro-life organizations that do not acknowledge abortion as means of family planning and urge strict abstinence over birth contraceptives.

The glaring issue, though, is that women expect to speak with their doctor openly and honestly about their options when faced with an unexpected pregnancy — now, the position of a doctor seems in many ways diluted because they are unable to fully aid and inform their patients.

To rightfully maintain the standard of an ethical patient-doctor relationship, the president of Planned Parenthood, Leana Wen, said Planned Parenthood cannot morally accept federal funds. And, given that 41 percent of clinics funded by Title X are headed by Planned Parenthood, the effect of diminished funding will be felt strongly.

Whether or not you support a woman’s right to abortion, the consequences of defunding Planned Parenthood extend beyond the ability to access abortion. Aside from that service, Planned Parenthood hosts a variety of procedures and means of care for patients, including methods of pregnancy prevention, pregnancy tests and services, general healthcare, sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, LGBTQ care and routine services for men and women, including cancer detection. Furthermore, all of these make up a much greater percentage of the total services Planned Parenthood provides than abortions do.

Just last year, according to Planned Parenthood’s 2017-2018 annual report, the organization collectively provided 9.7 million services to 2.4 million patients — of which abortions consisted of only 3 percent. Their annual report also stated that Planned Parenthood prevented approximately 402,000 unintended pregnancies through contraceptive services. Ironically, defunding Planned Parenthood will actually increase the number of women who are unable to access contraceptive services and thus, the number of women who seek abortions. By fighting Planned Parenthood, pro-life advocates are working against their goal by heightening the need for abortions.

Given Planned Parenthood’s role in providing a plethora of essential health services, this is not solely a matter of pro-life versus pro-choice. This is a matter of equal access to quality healthcare, regardless of your social identity. Defunding Planned Parenthood means that these services, particularly necessary for the United States’ marginalized populations, cannot be carried out to full capacity.

Do people — particularly low-income individuals, people of color or transgender people who already face compounded challenges — not deserve the right to breast exams to check for cancer? Do these individuals not deserve the right to birth control? Do they not deserve the right to be treated for sexually-transmitted diseases?

Defunding Planned Parenthood denies marginalized people the quality healthcare that other privileged groups can access with ease.

Kathryn Augustine is a Medill first-year. She can be contacted at kathrynaugustine2022@u.northwestern.edu. If you would like to respond publicly to this op-ed, send a Letter to the Editor to opinion@dailynorthwestern.com. The views expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of all staff members of The Daily Northwestern.

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