The landmark Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, which legalized abortion in the United States, was decided 44 years ago this past Sunday. The right to have an abortion has been settled law for years, but some politicians in Washington, D.C. do not see it that way.
In order to assert its pro-life stance, the Republican-controlled Congress wasted little time this month in announcing its intention to cut federal funding to Planned Parenthood, a health care provider dedicated to reproductive health and sex education.
“Reproductive health has always been a sensitive topic,” said Rujuta Chincholkar-Mandelia, a women’s studies professor. “I don’t think it’s a new issue.”
Unfortunately, she’s right. It’s not a new issue. And it’s unfair for these politicians to continually put their own personal beliefs ahead of protecting women’s health. The existence of Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to reproductive health care cannot continually become partisan issues every time new leaders take office, potentially threatening to cut essential funding.
“I think the biggest thing we’ll have to look out for is that they try and take that Medicaid reimbursement away,” said Luke Robinson, a senior political science major, who has interned at Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates since last September.
Some of Planned Parenthood’s federal funding comes from Title X, a federal family planning program, but the majority of this funding comes from these Medicaid reimbursements — about 75 percent, according to a 2017 article from Time Magazine.
About 60 percent of Planned Parenthood patients receive their health care through Medicaid reimbursements or Title X. A lack of federal funding would put Planned Parenthood’s patients, especially low-income people, at a loss for important health care.
Some politicians try to justify defunding Planned Parenthood because of the abortion services offered by the organization. But this argument does not hold.
The Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976, restricts federal money from going toward abortion services, except in the cases of rape, incest or danger to the mother’s life.
The health services that these politicians are really defunding include STI testing and treatment, contraception and cancer screenings.
These services should not be partisan issues.
“I think Planned Parenthood is perceived to be sort of the mainstream to providing abortion services,” Chincholkar-Mandelia said. “People aren’t very educated about the other things that it provides, and [they] think to stop [abortion] everything has to be taken away.”
“The Republican plan would be: Let’s take the money out of Planned Parenthood because some of their clinics provide abortive services, and let’s give it to other clinics that could do the same thing,” Robinson said. “The issue with that is a lot of these counties where we have Planned Parenthood affiliates, we are the only affiliate offering those type of services.”
While studying at Temple, I have personally benefitted from such health care services, as have millions of other people who visit Planned Parenthood every year, like Emma, a senior on a pre-med track who requested her last name be withheld for privacy reasons.
Emma needs the accessibility of Planned Parenthood for health care while being away from home. She uses the organization’s services to access birth control and STD testing.
“Some of these procedures and regular appointments can be so expensive, but they really help you out,” she said. “It’s nice to know too that if I ever needed anything I can go down there and make an appointment pretty quickly and easily.”
If she couldn’t go to Planned Parenthood anymore Emma said she would visit an OB-GYN, but that would be much more expensive. Emma, and all women across the country, shouldn’t have to struggle for access to health care.
“It’s a shame that people are deciding for us what we can do with our bodies, what we can’t do, where we can or can’t do it,” Emma said.
It’s time for this to stop.
Politicians need to stop telling women what to do with their bodies and stop targeting Planned Parenthood in order to promote a pro-life agenda. It’s not their place. And in effect, all they are really doing anyway is cutting health care access for those who need it most.
Zari Tarazona can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.