Defunding Planned Parenthood Hurts Women (But No One Seems to Care): #NowWhat

Defunding Planned Parenthood is a bad idea, but it could happen.

ColumnPlanned Parenthood has had a pretty crappy summer and if many House Republicans get their way, the organization could have an even worse year ahead.

In July, the family planning organization was accused of selling fetal tissue for profit. And just last week, the House of Representatives voted to defund the organization.

“In a 241-187 vote, nearly all Republicans and two Democrats approved legislation that would block Planned Parenthood’s federal funding for one year, giving time for Congress to fully investigate claims of wrongdoing by the provider,” reports The Hill.

As of publishing time, the Senate had yet to vote on defunding Planned Parenthood, but depending on how the bill ends up shaking out, we could see another government shutdown. (According to US News, “some conservatives want to use the must-pass funding bill” to lead the government to shutdown if the Senate votes to keep Panned Parenthood funded.) Currently, the family planning organization gets almost “$500 million a year from the government for providing health services at almost 700 clinics across the country.”

Abortion has always been a hot button issue, but it’s not political, even though it is: The issue is obviously medical (and personal as hell), but it’s still tinged with all sorts of political emotions. And it’s those emotions that make people go absolutely bananas over the issue. The sad truth is that Planned Parenthood is not a one-stop abortion shop. The organization provides an incredible amount of reproductive health services for women. If the organization does end up getting defunded, it could affect the healthcare of tens of thousands of women, in the U.S.

This past July, the organization was blasted because of a video that showed Planned Parenthood employees talking about what the organization gets monetarily for harvesting fetal tissue from, yes, abortions. While the video is reported to be heavily edited (the full, unedited video shows a Planned Parenthood executive repeatedly saying its clinics want to cover their costs, not make money, when donating fetal tissue from abortions for scientific research, reports, Republicans have had a field day saying that the organization is trading in fetal tissue to make a dirty, bloody profit.

The deep-seated need politicians have (most of whom overwhelmingly seem to be male, BTW) to control a woman’s access to an abortion is upsetting. Planned Parenthood provides cancer screenings, breast exams, UTI and STI treatment, birth control services, and more. It’s hard to fathom how any politician could actually vote to take away such life-saving services.

And while the most unsettling thing about the ongoing Planned Parenthood debate is that women are the ones who will suffer most, it’s also disappointing this whole scuff up is marring fetal tissue research.

Yes–those abortions aren’t in vain.

Fetal tissue is used for a lot of medical research and can be donated to help other living beings, too. Some in the medical field say fetal tissue is no longer needed for research, but others strongly disagree: “Several high-profile researchers have taken different stances on the need for fetal tissue in the wake of the videos. Many have argued that fetal tissue is a crucial way to study diseases and develop new treatments. Hundreds of universities use fetal tissue research in some way, many with funding from the federal government,” The Hill reports.

So, what’s going to happen when the bill goes to the Senate? So far, no one’s quite sure. Just this Tuesday, the Senate voted “down a bill that would have banned abortion after 20 weeks.” That’s good news. And most Senate Republicans think this current fight to defund Planned Parenthood should end. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been quoted as saying this vote would be “an exercise in futility.” But the thing is, House Republicans are saying they won’t sign a budget that doesn’t defund Planned Parenthood, and this belligerent battle over women’s rights to safe and legal health care, is what could lead to a government shutdown. (Good thing it won’t defund ulcer medications.)

The fight Planned Parenthood wages everyday to keep affordable healthcare accessible to women may never be over. But is it possible that someday the organization’s opponents cool their jets and realize all their hemming and hawing isn’t saving lives, it’s hurting women? Is that too much to ask?

Better yet, how about our esteemed congressmen and women  try to work on something that really matters, you know, like keeping our planet from bursting into a giant ball of flames.

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Abbie Stutzer

Writer, editor, and owner of Ginchy!, a freelance writing and editing company, and home funeral hub. Adores smart sex ed, sustainable ag, spooky history, women's health, feminism, horror, wine, and sci-fi.