If you pay attention to politics ― and if you care about women's health care — then you're probably aware of the ongoing battle over reproductive rights, occurring in recent years at both the state and federal levels. Few national proposals represent this battle like the ongoing Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood do, despite the fact that the organization provides such an enormous share of affordable women's health care. And if you're looking for a simple reason why that's a bad idea, here's one: this video about Planned Parenthood and community health centers explains why the GOP's proposals to fund community clinics instead doesn't add up, and would spell disaster for countless low-income women.
First things first: It's important to note two essential facts about the American right's ongoing efforts to curtail abortion access. One, the vast majority of services Planned Parenthood provides have nothing to do with abortion. Two, abortion is a constitutionally protected right that American women are meant to have access to, so the fact that it's a controversial practice should not dictate how the government regulates it.
Regardless, Republican opposition to reproductive rights has taken many forms in recent years ― by way of so-called TRAP laws (targeted regulation of abortion providers) in GOP-controlled states; outright bans after 20 weeks in many cases; and yes, the federal effort to nix Planned Parenthood's funding.
When it's pointed out how much harm this would cause millions of American women who need affordable health care, a popular Republican retort is to suggest the funds be routed to community health clinics instead. In fact, even Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has advocated for this course of action. But, as the above video from the Bridge Project highlights, there's little reason to be optimistic that the nation's current network of community health clinics could actually handle the kind of surge in demand they'd see from such a change.
To the contrary, community clinics are already strapped for time and can leave people who need care waiting weeks and months for appointments ― that's the very nature of providing basic and essential care to people who otherwise might not be able to afford it. It is, in simple terms, not a solution for the problems that would ensue if Planned Parenthoods started shuttering in the wake of a federal defunding. Nor would such community clinics provide any answer for women seeking their constitutionally protected right to an abortion ― it must not be overlooked that when abortion access is restricted, women often turn to far more grisly, dangerous alternatives to terminate their pregnancies.
In short, while it's a convenient enough deflection to argue that community clinics could pick up the slack for Planned Parenthood in a pinch, the reality is that such clinics lack the organization's specialized focus, and would be taking on a great deal more responsibility than they already have — responsibilities which, while nobly undertaken, can't always be met.
Whether those concerns will actually motivate many Republicans to stand against their party and oppose defunding, of course, is still unclear ― although Republican senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski have already suggested they may oppose such efforts.