Defunding Planned Parenthood Would Be the Real Betrayal of Women

Defunding Planned Parenthood Would Be the Real Betrayal of Women

In the past two weeks, three secretly recorded (and misleadingly edited) videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissues were leaked by anti-choice activists in an attempt to make the organization appear to be participating in the illegal harvesting of body parts for profit. Pro-choice activists have dissected the videos and proved that Planned Parenthood has done nothing illegal. Despite the facts, Republican men, like Rand Paul and Mitch McConnell, have been calling for Congress to defund and investigate the organization.  

On Tuesday, the Students for Life of America and Pro-Life Future held rallies dubbed #WomenBetrayed across the country, which also advocated for defunding and investigation. But the real betrayal would be in defunding an organization that not only provides abortions, a constitutionally protected right, but also offers reproductive and women’s health services as 97 percent of its work.

Just ask Texas.

In 2011, the Texas legislature made deep cuts to the Department of State Health Services Family Planning Program, which resulted in the closing of at least 53 women’s health-care clinics and left 147,000 low-income women without access to preventative care like breast and cervical cancer screenings, or contraception.

Already facing a women’s health crisis, former Governor Rick Perry and the Texas legislature followed the devastating budget cuts with a law that would keep Planned Parenthood from participating in the federally funded Medicaid Women’s Healthcare Program. Because it is against federal law to exclude qualified providers from Medicaid care, the Obama administration decided to end the program.

Prior to the administration’s decision, Planned Parenthood accounted for 40 percent of family-planning services in Texas and was the state’s biggest women’s health-care provider. The end of federal funding for the Women’s Health Program meant that 130,000 more women would join the nearly 150,000 women already affected by the 2011 budget cuts.

As an alternative to the federal program, the Texas legislature created a similar, but state-funded program called the Texas Women’s Healthcare Program. A 2015 report by Texas Monthly highlighted the fact that after kicking Planned Parenthood out of Texas (and even with this new program) fewer women in the state now have access to health care. The Republican goal of stripping away Planned Parenthood’s federal funding doesn’t arise from true concern for women—just ask the women in Texas.