What A Defunded Planned Parenthood Really Means

On Thursday, House Speaker Paul Ryan confirmed that Republicans plan to strip Planned Parenthood of its federal funding as a part of their efforts to repeal Obamacare next month. Turns out, this isn’t an empty threat but one that is rather certain to happen—in 2015, efforts by Republicans to repeal Obamacare and strip Planned Parenthood of its funding passed both houses of Congress but was repealed by President Obama. This time around, President Trump is fully expected to sign the bill.

Federal money constitutes around 40% of Planned Parenthood’s funding. The organization receives this cash as reimbursement for non-abortion services offered to low-income women. “Two and a half million women, men and young people come through our doors every year for lifesaving care like cancer screenings, birth control, and STI and STD tests,” Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards said, “and they cannot afford to have basic reproductive health care attacked.”

As of 2012, 79% of the people receiving services from Planned Parenthood lived at 150% of the federal poverty level or lower (=$18,500 per year per person). Only around 3% of the services Planned Parenthood provides are abortion-related, which means that 97% of the services, nearly 80% of which serve people who can’t afford to get women’s health care elsewhere, include things like pelvic exams and STI screenings.

Individual states can still choose to fund Planned Parenthood—as can individual donors—but costs will inevitably rise for all services provided by the organization as result of this new legislation. This presumably means that the 79% of Planned Parenthood patients who rely on it for affordable care will have to find somewhere else to go or, more likely, end up with nowhere to go at all. Though men also utilize Planned Parenthood—and the percentage of men visiting Planned Parenthood increased by 83% between 2002 and 2012—this is largely considered a women’s issue as it will limit women’s access to contraceptives, annual checkups and more. It will also, as stated above, disproportionately affect those women who can’t afford to be priced out of family planning services.

Democrats immediately denounced this eventuality, with Speaker Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi saying, “I just would like to speak individually to women across America: this is about respect for you, for your judgment about your personal decisions in terms of your reproductive needs, the size and timing of your family or the rest, not to be determined by the insurance company or by the Republican ideological right-wing caucus in the House of Representatives.” If this issue matters to you, you can donate to Planned Parenthood and write letters to your representatives in Congress, which could be particularly effective if you live in a Republican state.