For the second time this week, Planned Parenthood's website has been hacked. Just days after a hacker group breached its site and stole private information, the health organization was forced to take its site offline on Wednesday after hackers hit it with a DDoS attack. These hacks have come in the wake of several videos posted by anti-abortion groups which claim that they show a Planned Parenthood executive discussing the sale of fetal tissue and organs. As if these grossly inaccurate allegations weren't bad enough, the subsequent hacks are concretely and negatively affecting millions of women who rely on Planned Parenthood's health services.
On Wednesday afternoon, hackers flooded Planned Parenthood's website with massive amounts of fake traffic in order to block access for real users. The organization was forced to keep its site down for the rest of the day, posting the following message in its place:
Our site is not available due to a hack by extremists.
Following this second hack in one week — anti-abortion hacker group 3301 took credit for the first — Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood, issued the following statement:
This is a new low for anti-abortion extremists; 200,000 people a day count on Planned Parenthood's website for accurate health information. Blocking people from accessing information on the full range of sexual and reproductive health — including birth control, sexually transmitted infections, healthy relationships, parenting and preventive care — only shows how far opponents of safe and legal abortion will go.
Laguens' message is important. These extremist tactics to deter the health organization don't end with downed websites. Every hack impacts actual women who rely on affordable healthcare. In blocking access to Planned Parenthood's site, these hackers aren't just impeding women from having abortions — which make up only three percent of the organization's services — but a whole host of other services, many of which are life-saving. Here are some of Planned Parenthood's most crucial services that every hack inhibits women in accessing.
Every year, Planned Parenthood provides 400,000 pap tests and 500,000 breast exams, which are both integral methods of screening for cancer. Given that nearly 13,000 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year (more than 4,000 die from it) and about one in eight American women will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime, these services are absolutely crucial for women's health.
Sexually transmitted diseases are another major health concern for women. Each year, Planned Parenthood provides more than four million tests and treatments for STDs, including 700,000 HIV tests.
A major component of Planned Parenthood's mission that its opponents consistently ignore is its preventative care. They provide affordable and comprehensive birth control options for women across the country.
Something that many might not associate with Planned Parenthood is its primary healthcare. Its medical professionals and physicians will also treat non-reproductive illness, such as the common cold or flu.