What Republican Politicians Get Wrong About Planned Parenthood

by Megan Grant

If you're sick and tired of having to defend Planned Parenthood, you're not alone. For years, we've been trying to explain the many things Republican politicians need to know about how Planned Parenthood operates, but our arguments often fall upon deaf ears. It feels like we're endlessly battling the same few myths and misconceptions about Planned Parenthood and the services they offer — largely because many Republican leaders think it comes down to one thing: abortion. But let's be clear: while Planned Parenthood is proud to help women exercise all of their reproductive freedoms, abortion does not define Planned Parenthood. And in communities across the country, Planned Parenthood is a primary — or sometimes only — affordable and easily accessible health care provider. The organization is there for millions of women and men of all ages and ethnicities when they don't know where else to go.

Some argue that there is no war on women, plain and simple. But when you're talking about trying to deny people health care, in addition to their right to control their own bodies — and when said human beings are primarily women — there is no denying that women's rights are, in many ways, specifically under attack.

Politicians across the board have been very vocal on their opinions regarding Planned Parenthood; but there still seems to be some confusion amongst the Republican party about what exactly the organization does. Let's get a few things straight.


Planned Parenthood Isn't An "Abortion Factory"

While President Trump once said that some of the things Planned Parenthood does are "good," in the same breath, he told Chris Cuomo of CNN's New Day, "The problem that I have with Planned Parenthood is the abortion situation. It is like an abortion factory, frankly."

In reality, abortion care and services are just one (very small) aspect of Planned Parenthood. The myriad services they provide also includes birth control, STD testing, sex and health education, and physical exams.

Trump later commented in that same interview, "But we have to take care of women." Shhhh — nobody tell him that providing access to safe and affordable abortions is part of how many women take care of themselves.


Planned Parenthood Has Not Been Found Guilty Of Any Criminal Activity

At the second GOP debate, Ted Cruz said, "Absolutely we shouldn't be sending $500 million of taxpayer money to funding an ongoing criminal enterprise." That's cute, Cruz. But let's talk about this supposed criminal activity. Every single state investigation into Planned Parenthood has found absolutely no wrongdoing — and that includes that whole mess with the videos released by an anti-abortion group supposedly "proving" that PP illegally sold fetal tissue. Let's finally put this myth to bed: Planned Parenthood is not participating in illegal activities.


Planned Parenthood Is One Of The Safest Places For Marginalized People

E.W. Jackson said back in 2012, "The Democrat party has created an unholy alliance between certain so-called civil rights leaders and Planned Parenthood, which has killed unborn black babies by the tens of millions. Planned Parenthood has been far more lethal to black lives than the KKK ever was." In 2015, Trump's Secretary of Housing & Urban Development, Ben Carson, claimed in an interview with Fox News that "Margaret Sanger...was not particularly enamored with black people" and that "one of the reasons you find most of their clinics in black neighborhoods is so that you can find a way to control that population."

There are approximately 492 things wrong with these thoughts, which you can find repeated in various places around the internet — but let's stick with the big ones.

To start with: the white supremacists of the Ku Klux Klan — an extremist hate group — have targeted black Americans as well as immigrants, LGBTQ+ people, Jewish people, and other marginalized groups. First formed in 1865, the group has committed acts of violence — including lynchings, murder, bombings, and rape — against people who challenged white supremacy, as well as those who were simply not Caucasian heterosexuals.

In other words, they have absolutely nothing in common with Planned Parenthood — which provides affordable care to all, regardless of race, gender, sexuality, etc. Planned Parenthood offers outreach in many marginalized communities, and provides specialized resources to LGBTQ+ people who may not have other places to get affordable, respectful care.

As Alencia Johnson, assistant director of constituency communications for Planned Parenthood, told NPR in a 2015 story related to the Carson quote:

"Does he think that black women are somehow less capable of making the deeply personal decision about whether to end a pregnancy than other women? ... It's a shame that a doctor, who should understand the barriers black women face accessing high-quality preventive and reproductive health care services, would pander so clearly to anti-abortion extremists on the right."

Oh, and a former KKK leader publicly supported Donald Trump.


If You Take Away Planned Parenthood, You Take Away Affordable Health Care From Millions

In 2015, former presidential candidate Lindsey Graham said during a Fox News Republican debate, "Let's take the money that we would give to Planned Parenthood and put it in women's health care without having to harvest the organs of the unborn." Graham doesn't understand that, in addition to the fact that his reference to "harvesting" organs is offensive and untrue, money given to Planned Parenthood is already in women's health care . If you eliminate PP, you eliminate health care for millions of people who have nowhere else to go.


While Americans Are Divided About Planned Parenthood, Most Support It

Former presidential candidate John Kasich said during a Republican debate, "Well, I agree that we should defund Planned Parenthood. I don't know many people in America who don't think that we should..." Really? I do. A 2015 Gallup poll found that 59 percent of Americans view Planned Parenthood favorably. A 2017 poll found that 62 percent of Americans oppose eliminating federal funding. Overall, as of this year, we know that 16 different nationwide polls and nine additional polls in key states show significant favorability for the organization.


Planned Parenthood Can't Be Replaced By Community Health Centers Without Severe Negative Consequences For The People Who Rely On Them

In a 2015 interview on Fox News, Rand Paul stated, "Everything that Planned Parenthood does other than abortion is done by community health clinics. There is no reason in the world to have Planned Parenthood other than abortion." Here's why you're wrong, Rand. (And you, too, Paul Ryan.)

For starters, PP is the one place in 103 U.S. counties where people can get publicly-subsidized contraceptive services. Furthermore, PP is often able to see patients three to five days sooner than other providers. What's more, in the 332 counties where Planned Parenthood operates across the country, they provide care for at least half of all women who rely on publicly funded family planning services. Closing these clinics would mean community health centers would likely be entirely overwhelmed by the number of women who would need them. The logistics of it simply don't add up.


Defunding Planned Parenthood Will Never Stop Abortion

Mike Huckabee, former presidential candidate, said last year while campaigning in Iowa, "If all a candidate can promise is stop funding to Planned Parenthood, that isn’t enough for me. That’s low-hanging fruit. Let’s do something bolder than that. Let’s stop abortion completely." Bold, indeed, Huckabee — bold as only an idea that won't ever work can be.

Criminalizing abortion will not stop abortion. As an example, you can look at countries that have outlawed abortion; the abortion rate remains constant. In fact, in countries where abortion is totally illegal or allowed only to save the life of the woman, the annual abortion rate is about 37 women for every 1,000. In countries where abortion is usually legal, that number is 34.

You know what does help lower abortion rates? Contraception. You know who provides contraception? I'll give you one hint: It rhymes with Schlanned Shlarenthood.