By Josie Howatt | Staff Writer
In an interview with Trevor Noah on Jan. 12, president of Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards related that in the days following the presidential election, there was a 900 percent increase in women scheduling appointments to receive an IUD, or intrauterine device (a form of birth control). These women, according to Richards, “were worried about losing their access to health care.” In the wake of Donald Trump’s victory, many American women are rightfully concerned, as influential Republican politicians such as Mike Pence and Paul Ryan have voiced their plan to “defund” Planned Parenthood.
However, the term “defund” is misleading. According to the “I Stand With Planned Parenthood” website, “defunding Planned Parenthood really means blocking patients who rely on public health care programs (like Medicaid and Title X) from getting their care at Planned Parenthood health centers. Approximately 60 percent of Planned Parenthood patients rely on these programs to access care, and most of those patients use Medicaid.” While this means that the organization itself will not be “defunded,” the majority of the men and women who utilize its services will no longer be able to receive preventative care such as contraception, STD testing, and cancer screenings.
Ryan stated in a CNN Town Hall on January 12 that he will ensure women “get the care they need” if they are not able to access services at Planned Parenthood. This care will likely come from federal community health centers, which — on the surface — seem like a good option. But according to Sara Rosenbaum, the Founding Chair of the Department of Health Policy at George Washington University’s School of Public Health and Health Services explains that millions of poor woman depend on Planned Parenthood for healthcare. Therefore, “The assertion that community health centers could step into a breach of this magnitude is simply wrong and displays a fundamental misunderstanding of how the health care system works.”
In the previously mentioned interview, Richards pointed out another crucial issue: “If there were more members of Congress that could get pregnant, we wouldn’t be arguing about birth control.” Why should male members of Congress be making decisions that affect the average American woman’s ability to receive adequate reproductive care? According to Planned Parenthood’s website, every year, clinics “provide birth control for 2 million people, as well as over 4 million STD tests and treatments; over 360,000 breast exams; over 270,000 Pap tests.” Denying preventative care to the majority of those that rely upon Planned Parenthood means that these women (and men) will often have nowhere else to go. We must consider the devastating ramifications of this possibility and do everything in our power to prevent Congress from passing legislation that would make it a reality.