On Monday evening, the Republican-controlled Senate voted against a motion to eliminate all federal funding for Planned Parenthood — something that should come as a relief for feminists everywhere. Planned Parenthood has come under a lot of fire in the past couple of weeks after a video surfaced which purported to show Dr. Deborah Nucatola, Planned Parenthood’s Senior Director of Medical Services, talking about the sale of fetal organs and body parts. Despite PP's insistence that the video was heavily edited, Republicans led a push to completely defund the organization, leading supporters to call their senators, sign petitions, and make donations in an effort to save it.
The Senate's decision was the right one. Aside from the fact that only three percent of the organization's services are abortions, it also provides vital family planning resources, sex education programs, and other reproductive healthcare services. Republicans have been going after Planned Parenthood for a long time, and while they probably won't give up after this, this vote was an important moment. It demonstrated that feminists will not give up in the fight for women's rights and for reproductive justice. Here's why the vote was ultimately a success.
1. PP Provides Essential Family Planning Resources
Trying to eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood — especially from Medicaid — would have been exceptionally complicated. When former Texas governor Rick Perry cut family planning funds for clinics in 2011, the Obama administration said the move violated Medicaid requirements, because it tried to eliminate Planned Parenthood as a choice of family planning provider. This is the key point — people need to be able to choose where they go for family planning services, and defunding Planned Parenthood would make it difficult for low-income women to access things like contraception and HIV tests.
2. PP Has Important Sex Education Programs
Planned Parenthood has pushed for sex education programs in public schools for decades. Its own Get Real program, implemented in a handful of states, encouraged more communication about sex between middle and high schoolers and their parents outside the classroom. Most importantly, Planned Parenthood's sex education programs affirm individual agency and choice. The organization recognizes that an understanding of sex and sexuality comes from talking and learning about them, not from shying away from these subjects.
3. PP Is Pro-Choice
We've heard it over and over again: Only three percent of Planned Parenthood's services are abortions. Because of the size of the organization, however, it has become one of the largest providers of abortion services in the country. But whether or not Planned Parenthood provides abortions — a lot of them, a few of them, none at all — should not be used as an argument to defund the organization. It's true that abortion has become the basis for a lot of arguments to remove its federal funding, but PP makes it possible for a lot of women to have safe and healthy access to a service they otherwise would not be able to. It is an individual's choice whether or not they want to have an abortion, and Planned Parenthood affirms every woman's right to that choice.
4. PP Is Trying To Be An Ally To Marginalized Communities
The organization still has a long way to go on this score, especially when it comes to understanding the intersections of the movement for reproductive justice and other movements. But it is making it possible for marginalized individuals — particularly those who are low-income — to access services that are becoming increasingly restricted by state and local legislation.
Planned Parenthood did not initiate the movement for reproductive justice, but it is using its resources and influence to support women across the country. And for these reasons, it is crucial that it sticks around for a long time to come.
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