A student voice.

Defunding Planned Parenthood

May 17, 2017

There are 2.5 miles separating Planned Parenthood of Ann Arbor and Community High School, but the connection is much more direct than that. Planned Parenthood serves everyone in need, regardless of age, gender or sexual identity.

There are 0.5 miles separating Planned Parenthood of Washington DC and the White House, but they could not be farther apart. With President Donald Trump in office, Planned Parenthood and other health related services are at risk.

On May 4, 2017, the American Health Care Act (AHCA) passed through the House of Representatives. For the AHCA to be enacted, it still has to be passed through Congress and be signed by President Trump.

According to congress.gov, the American Health Care Act states the following: “For one year, certain federal funds may not be made available to states for payments to certain family planning providers (e.g., Planned Parenthood Federation of America).

That means that the government will no longer allocate any federal funds to any Planned Parenthood organization.

“They are not defunding Planned Parenthood, they are defunding low-income people, they are defunding patients,” Ricky Bicknell, Planned Parenthood Community Outreach Coordinator, said. “Now more than ever, I think it is important to talk about what’s at stake, not just from people in positions of power, but legislative that can actually take things away from people.”

By “defunding” Planned Parenthood, the government is saying that they would not allow Planned Parenthood to access Medicaid funds.

Medicaid is a complicated process in which taxpayer dollars go to help and support low-income people with health care costs. Medicaid can be broken down into four simple steps:

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that defunding Planned Parenthood for one year will eventually decrease federal spending by 234 million dollars throughout the next 10 years.  Though the government will save money, they will need to spend an extra $77 million on Medicaid over the year.

There are 39 “health care providers” in Michigan.  Planned Parenthood is one of the 39

providers with 19 locations in Michigan. Planned Parenthood serves over 65% of the Medicaid patients in Michigan. According to Bicknell, they chose Planned Parenthood because they “know we do reproductive health care the best” and trust Planned Parenthood for “nonjudgmental, compassionate care.”

A common misconception is that all of the other “health care providers” perform the same services as Planned Parenthood. “For every Planned Parenthood, there are 20 federal community health centers,” Speaker of the House Paul Ryan said. What Speaker Ryan failed to mention is that these health centers include dental clinics, food shelters, and many other locations that do not provide the same services that Planned Parenthood does.

The Ann Arbor Health Center – like all Planned Parenthood – serves women, men, and teens with their sexual and reproductive health needs.

Services Planned Parenthood offer includes: providing birth control, HIV testing, LGBT services, men’s health care, Morning-After Pill (Emergency Contraception), pregnancy testing & services, STD testing, treatment, vaccines, and abortions.

Planned Parenthood does not only perform abortions. In fact, the most common services they perform are STD screenings, providing birth control, and administration, according to patient statistics provided by Planned Parenthood of Michigan.

Planned Parenthood devotes its time not only to health services but also to educating young people. The Peer Education program focuses on teaching teens about Planned Parenthood and all the services it has to offer.  Ricky Bicknell coordinates the Peer Education program in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  Michigan’s Peer Education program, founded in the 1980’s, is one of the oldest in the country.

Lia Kahan, a Community High junior, joined the Peer Ed program in 2015. “The main reason [I joined] is that I am really passionate about reproductive justice and the education surrounding sexual health,” Kahan said.  “I think that people don’t put an emphasis on how fun it is.”

Kahan thinks that having Peer Eds teach fellow peers about sexual reproduction reduces the stigma around Planned Parenthood and sexual health. “Our main goal is to make it more of a conversation than a lecture,” Kahan said. She believes that Health is the most important class you take in high school.

Members of Planned Parenthood also are on the Sexual Health Education Advisory Committee, the district’s component of the school board, the committee oversees all of the content in sex-ed for all of the schools K-12.

Committees like the Sexual Health Education Advisory Committee adopt and approve anything that is taught about sex-ed in all Ann Arbor Public Schools. It is a state law that every district — if they teach anything about sex ed—has to have a committee. Some committees meet once a month, others once a year. The Ann Arbor Public Schools’ committee meets once a month.

Though Planned Parenthood does all of these things, the only thing that the government cares about is the abortion services Planned Parenthood performs.

“The abortion services, which as a national organization accounts for less than 3% of all of the services we provide,” Bicknell said.  “Which usually blows people’s minds because they think that ‘Oh well, Planned Parenthood is known for abortions so they must do a lot of them.’ But in reality, we are doing way more to prevent people from being in that position where they have an unplanned pregnancy, 97 percent of what we do is arguably preventative health care.”

According to Advocates for Youth over 80 percent of all adolescent pregnancies are unplanned. Teen pregnancies can be the result of a range of things from sexual assault to the breaking of a condom.

In 2013, there were just over 660,000 abortions. That is nearly 1.25 abortions per 100  women aged 15 to 44.

However, Medicaid does not cover abortions beyond cases of rape and life endangerment to the mother. Therefore, the argument that taxpayer dollars are going to abortions—in most cases is a false claim.

President Trump has offered to continue funding Planned Parenthood if they stopped servicing abortions. According to Bicknell is “never something that we, as an organization, would have considered” and that their answer to the GOP has been and always will be: “We provide a full range of reproductive health services. No matter what.”

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