By Samantha Perez
In May, 2018, President Donald Trump proposed cutting funding to Planned Parenthood, and most Republicans and anti-abortion groups backed him. Now, following the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who fought for reproductive rights, Trump’s nomination of Amy Coney Barrett is reviving the Planned Parenthood controversy.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America is a non-profit organization that provides sexual healthcare in the United States and in other parts of the world. Planned Parenthood is known for their abortion services, and many Americans believe that abortions are the organization’s only function. However, this is far from the truth; Planned Parenthood provides essential healthcare services for all people, including STI testing, cancer screening and prevention, and hormone therapy. It also offers some services specific for females, such as well-woman exams, birth control, and infertility services. All of these services are completely free and accessible to anyone eighteen and over, as well as minors with parental consent.
The Public Health Service Act, sponsored by then-Representative George H.W. Bush (TX-7), was signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1970. The Act includes Title X, the federal family planning program, providing health care free of charge through Planned Parenthood. In 2016, Title X served four million patients in just under 4,000 different clinics. The majority of Title X patients are female; 11% of patients are male, 67% are under 30, and almost 67% have an income under the federal poverty line. Planned Parenthood also receives funding when providing services to patients who are under the Medicaid program.
Trump and his administration have set out to defund Planned Parenthood and have even made this a primary talking point of his reelection campaign. By “defunding” Planned Parenthood, the Trump administration could block people who use government health programs, like Title X and Medicaid, from accessing the care administered at the organization. Since 2018, Planned Parenthood has been forced out of the Title X program by the Trump administration’s gag rule, a regulation preventing the staff of government-funded family-planning clinics from offering patients information about abortion.
Trump signed an executive order in June that allows adoption and foster agencies to turn away LGBTQ+ couples from adopting. Many believe that these two moves by the Trump administration are not “Pro-Life” but instead are “Pro-Control”, declaring orders against the rights of women and the LGBTQ community based on personal beliefs and harming children in the process.
Although the Trump administration’s goal was to prevent women from having access to abortion services provided at Planned Parenthood, they also wound up preventing low-income Americans under the Title X program from receiving free sexual healthcare services ranging from cancer screenings to fertility services. The debate over abortion in itself is a whole other issue to unpack. Nonetheless, many believe that defunding Planned Parenthood will just lead to more issues, like women receiving unsafe abortions and a likely rise in the number of children in the foster system.