February 2, 2016
By Maggie Angel
Planned Parenthood is one of the major providers of women’s health services in the United States. Last year, an anti-abortion group released “undercover” videos of Planned Parenthood officials speaking about selling fetal tissue from abortions. Selling fetal tissue is illegal but using it for research is not. On January 26, CNN reported that following a proper investigation, a Texas grand jury indicted the anti-abortion activists for releasing false videos against Planned Parenthood. What they found instead was the activists posing as researchers with fake drivers licenses trying to purchase fetal tissue. The contents of the video were altered to make it seem like Planned Parenthood was selling them. The activists were indicted for tampering with a governmental record, a second-degree felony, and the prohibition of the purchase and sale of human organs, a class A misdemeanor, according to the Harris County district attorney.
However, this incident started a storm of criticism and attacks towards Planned Parenthood. Lawsuits were filed and protests were held, demanding the end of federal funding to this healthcare provider. Several states have started taking their own steps in defending the healthcare provider. Ohio’s legislature is set to pass a bill that defunds Planned Parenthood, even though funding is already prohibited for abortions. Instead, this action will impact STD testing and cancer screenings. If it passes, Governor Kasich, who is a Republican presidential candidate, will most likely sign it. The debate over federal funding has reached Capitol Hill. On January 6, a Republican led Congress passed a bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare and defunding of Planned Parenthood. President Obama proceeded to veto the bill on January 8.
What many people don’t understand, is that Planned Parenthood is more than just a place where a woman can have an abortion. Planned Parenthood is where several women gain access to reproductive healthcare. According to Planned Parenthood, services range from STI/STD testing (42 percent), contraception (34 percent), cancer screenings and prevention (10 percent) and abortions, which make up only 3 percent. Planned Parenthood needs to be destigmatized because it provides a wide variety of services to women who may not have access to healthcare providers.
This issue of women’s health expands beyond the United States. On January 25 through the 28, the fourth International Conference on Family Planning, sponsored by the Gates Institute, was held in Indonesia. It focused on empowering women in terms of their reproductive. With the ability to monitor their health and have control over it, women all over the world will have the chance to plan their futures; a great stride for gender equality. Political stunts like defunding Planned Parenthood that deny women healthcare here in the U.S. or around the world are unacceptable. Women’s health is not something to be used as a soundbite or for points in the polls. It impacts our mothers, daughters, sisters, friends, neighbors and wives. Supporting initiatives for women’s health supports women’s lives.