After nearly a year of contentious political discourse surrounding the funding of Planned Parenthood, President Obama has moved to guarantee funding for the organization, which provides reproductive health care at a low cost for men and women, including contraception, abortion care, cancer screenings and a plethora of other essential services. This is an important step by the Obama administration, demonstrating the essential role the organization plays in providing quality care at little to no cost to millions of Americans, especially lower-income women.
In 2015, Planned Parenthood became embroiled in a scandal after an anti-abortion organization, the Center for Medical Progress, released what they claimed to be video evidence of a Planned Parenthood employee attempting to sell fetal tissue to two individuals posing as interested buyers.
The scandal (although many of the accusations against Planned Parenthood have proven false or overblown) led to a swift political backlash against the organization, with Republican presidential candidates denouncing the organization and members of Congress attempting to pull their federal funding.
The new Title X protections handed down from the Obama Administration deems funding cannot be withheld from a family planning organization for reasons other than the provider’s “ability to deliver services to program beneficiaries in an effective manner.” This rule, therefore, is designed to prevent the politicized attacks on Planned Parenthood and organizations that are dedicated to providing family planning solutions—which undoubtedly includes abortion care.
The attacks against Planned Parenthood must be understood as part of a larger national battle over a woman’s right to choose. Political and legal attacks on abortion care clinics have cropped up in recent years by diminishing funding and over-regulating abortion care facilities until they were out of business.
In Texas, for example, half of the state’s clinics closed under such regulations, forcing women in need to travel long distances in order to receive abortion care to wait several days before receiving a time sensitive procedure. Luckily, this summer, the Supreme Court ruled against the Texas state legislature, deeming that these regulation laws ultimately placed an undue burden on women seeking abortion care.
A woman’s right to choose should not be used as a pawn in politicized battles. Societies do better when women have the right to choose motherhood and have access to quality reproductive health care services. In addition, organizations like Planned Parenthood ensure that reproductive rights are extended to low income women, giving family planning options to women where they may not have had them before. The move by the Obama administration to protect Planned Parenthood funding is a good one.
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