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Planned Parenthood defunding controversy resonates with students

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Graph by Giulia Heyqard with information from 2013 Planned Parenthood Annual Report

In 2013, Planned Parenthood completed 10,590,433 total services ranging from STI/STD testing to cancer screening and prevention.

A string of illegally recorded videos, along with a determined group of pro-life advocates, might single-handedly sever federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

The Center for Medical Progress has released a string of 10 videos depicting officials of Planned Parenthood discussing the sale of fetal tissue for profit and making changes to their abortion procedures in order to facilitate this practice. The videos have spurred several investigations by House Committees and a cry from members of Congress and Republican officials to strip a reported $235 million that the organization receives from the government.

Planned Parenthood, in response, has denied the allegations, claiming that the videos were heavily edited and that the practice of recording officials without their consent is illegal.

Evidence from an outside investigation, headed by former Wall Street Journal reporter, Glenn Simpson, and his firm, Fusion GPS, supports this claim. The report suggests that long pauses, discrepancies between the transcripts and the reported video file, and instances of goading from the undercover actors to instigate remarks from the Planned Parenthood officials all point to highly edited videos.

Representatives Dianna Black and Renee Ellmers have drafted a bill that will cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood and transfer the money to other women’s health organizations. For this bill to pass, it will require approval from Congress and the president, a difficult task according to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“The president’s made it very clear he’s not going to sign any bill that includes defunding,” McConnell said in an interview with WYMT, a Kentucky TV station.

Members of Congress are threatening to block any funding to the Obama administration, which could result in a government shutdown. Officials at Planned Parenthood do not seem to be intimidated by the opposition.

“They have been discredited at this point and all of us know that their true aim is to severely restrict or eliminate access to legal abortion,” Planned Parenthood’s Communications and Advocacy Coordinator Erin Jensen said. “Our organization has been around for over a hundred years and we’ve certainly received attacks like this before.”

Planned Parenthood reportedly does not use federal funding for abortion procedures. Instead, the money goes to different services that will suffer if the organization loses a significant chunk of its funding.

“Studies and polls show that the American people do not support defunding,” Jensen said. “They, in fact, support Planned Parenthood continuing to receive federal funding. It’s also important to remember that no federal dollars go towards abortion except in extremely rare instances of rape or incest, or when the life of the mother is in true danger. For the overwhelming majority, there are no federal dollars to spend on abortion. [The funding] goes to other services such as breast cancer screenings, cervical cancer screenings, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, and evidence based sex education, things like that, preventative health care is what that funding is used for.”

Planned Parenthood serves approximately 2.7 million patients across the country.  

“If Planned Parenthood were to be defunded because Congress decided to cut off funding, those patients would lose their healthcare, and their access to Planned Parenthood,” Jensen said. “Many of them would have nowhere else to go and, for a large number of people who go here, we are the only doctor that they see.”

The issue is frustrating for students who are involved with the local Planned Parenthood and participate in clubs that support the organization.

Planned Parenthood has been incredibly important,” second-year and social media representative for VOX, Margot Mooney, said. VOX acts as a liaison between the school and the local Planned Parenthood. “They have been able to let me in, and get an appointment for birth control or pelvic exams much faster than any doctor’s office, particularly in Sarasota where there’s an aging population, and doctors aren’t, for the large part, taking new patients.”

Additionally, several students also volunteer as patient-escorts at the local Planned Parenthood of Sarasota Health Center.

“I have never been more surrounded by a more genuine and caring, selfless group of people,” second-year student and patient-escort Annie Rosenblum said. “They truly care about patients and they care about not just providing abortions for people but for providing all kinds of different health care options that better people’s lives. It’s just a really beautiful group of people who work there.”

Patient-escorts accompany individuals who have scheduled appointments to obtain an abortion procedure from their cars to the facility.

“We’re the first point of support and safety for patients as they are entering the building,” Rosenblum said. “The protesters out back usually have some signs with some pretty graphic images, they like to shout through megaphones, and they like to sometimes video record us.”

The protesters are just one small indicator of the criticism that the organization receives.

“There is no excuse that can possibly be given for the moral bankruptcy of Planned Parenthood,” Republican Representative Jody B. Hice said in a recent speech. “It’s time to defund this while the investigation occurs.”

At this moment, the bill has been approved by House Republicans and is awaiting a decision from the House Democrats and the president.

“It’s just disturbing that health is so politicized,” New College alum and Volunteer and Advocacy Coordinator of Planned Parenthood Catherine Wolfe said. “Health is a human right, and something that people should absolutely have access to and the fact that people are using it as political fodder is really gross.”

 

Information for this article was taken from newyorktimes.com, tampabaytimes.com and usatoday.com.

 

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