Health Care Or Politics? What’s The Future For Planned Parenthood?

In the current issue of The New Yorker, Jill Lepore reveals the history of Planned Parenthood, beginning with the first birth-control clinic in the United States, which opened in October, 1916, in Brooklyn. Margaret Sanger was one of the three employees there, and went on to devote her life to the cause of making birth control available to all women.

It is a fascinating history.

Planned Parenthood In Brooklyn, 2011

Lepore describes how the Planned Parenthood health center in Brooklyn is a typical Planned Parenthood clinic. Last year, seventeen thousand patients received medical care there. Two-thirds were insured by Medicaid, or paid reduced rates, or received free treatment. They were tested for S.T.I.s and U.T.I.s; they were prescribed birth-control pills and antibiotics; they were fitted for diaphragms and I.U.D.s; they had pregnancy tests and Pap smears and abortions.

Planned Parenthood says that one in five women in the United States has been treated at a Planned Parenthood clinic. Critics of Planned Parenthood , who are engaged in a sustained attack on the organization, say that most of those women are going to clinics to have abortions, paid for, in violation of the Hyde Amendment, with taxpayer money.

Abortions Make Up Less Than Three Percent Of Planned Parenthood’s Services

On the contrary, according to Planned Parenthood, abortions make up less then three percent of its services.

From The New Yorker:

The campaign against PP has been unrelenting. Michele Bachman, in one speech, accused the organization of “committing crimes and enabling young minor girls and covering up issues I don’t even want to talk about because it is so disgusting” and in another, described clinics in swank suburban malls where wealthy women are “picking up Starbucks” can be found “stopping off for an abortion.”

From my days working as an abortion counselor, I can vouch for the fact that the decision to abort a foetus is far more weighty than “stopping off for an abortion.” Obviously, Bachman has never been in the agonizing position of having to decide on whether or not to keep a foetus.

Jackie Speier, my Democratic Congresswoman from California, told the story of her own abortion, owing to medical complications in the seventeenth week of a planned pregnancy: “For you to stand on this floor and to suggest, as you have, that somehow this is a procedure that is either welcomed, or done cavalierly, or done without any thought, is preposterous. To think that we are here tonight debating this issue, when the American people, if they are listening, are scratching their heads and wondering: What does this have to do with me getting a job?”

The fury over Planned Parenthood is two political passions – opposition to abortion and opposition to government programs for the poor – acting as one. So far, it has nearly led to the shutdown of the federal government, required  Republican Presidential nominees to swear their fealty to the (so-called) pro-life lobby, tied up legislatures and courts in more than half a dozen states, launched a congressional investigation, and helped cripple the Democratic Party.

From Jill Lepore writing in The New Yorker:

Abortion wasn’t a partisan issue until Republicans made it one. In June of 1972, a Gallup poll reported that sixty-eight percent of Republicans and fifty-nine percent of Democrats agreed that “the decision to have an abortion should be made solely by a woman and her physician.” Fifty-six percent of Catholics thought so, too.

Where We Are Now

Republicans established the very federal family-planning programs that Republican members of Congress and the G.O.P.’s Presidential candidates are trying to hard to dismantle. Republicans made abortion a partisan issue, contorted the GOP to mold itself around this issue, but Democrats allowed their party to be defined by it.

Congress failed to defund Planned Parenthood, but several states around the country have undertaken their own measures. Still,  the clutch of state defunding laws look likely to fail in the courts.

What would Margaret Sanger say now?

Related Stories

Kansas Admits It Destroyed Documents In Case Against Planned Parenthood

Koch Brothers’ Lawyers Defend Move To Defund Planned Parenthood

Kansas Fighting Disclosure Of Who Helped Write Abortion Restrictions

Photo Credit: WeNews


Kathryn Edwards
Kathryn Edwards6 years ago

It's time this generation of women read a little history and realize how hard women fought for these rights and what they went through to get them.

If the religious right has their way women once again will be second class citizens at least even more so then earning less money then men doing the same job.

Why would anyone want to defund PP when they help so many women and men with many different health issue, it is propaganda that is being spread about PP that has put them in the forefront of an issue that doesn't belong in government.

Why are these people even into this sort of thing it's the GOP that has made it an issue while they put making jobs which should be the top issue in this country in the background and they do this every election period.

It is just a way to make people forget that they should be worried about our economy not if a women chose to carry a fetus to term. It has nothing to do with any other person.

You go down a slippery road if you continue to listen to this propaganda and not what is really important to you. Jobs should be the number one issue in this election period who is stopping them from being created and who is not.

We have become just voting tools who do no research about how and why these things became law. What right do you have to say what I do if I'm not interfering in your life why interfere in others lives. We will be back to the "thumb rule" if you listen to all this propaganda from the religious right, if you d

Dijana D.
Dijana D6 years ago

thank bob for planned parenthood....they do so much good which i have experienced first hand on several occasions.

Jane H.
Jane H6 years ago

i will never forget the day I became pro-choice. I was standing in my kitchen reading about the Supreme Court having made abortion legal, and a feeling of gratitude spread through my body, I already had 3 children and the youngest was 3 years old. I thought to myslef," If I ever get pregnet again, I can consider this".....then a few years later my next dooe neighbor told me that the reason her grandmother raised her and her sister was because her own mother had died of an illegal abortion. We must prevail.

Ernest R.
Ernest R6 years ago

A question for the God spokespersons. The “go forth and multiply” thing was “mission accomplished” a long time ago. Did God say "Don’t ever stop until you have destroyed all the wonderful creatures I created and have so many people that you will have to eat each other to survive” ?

Nancy L.
Nancy L6 years ago

The govt needs to stay out of all health care. I'm talking to you, Obamacare.

Mary Alexander
Mary Alexander6 years ago

Great comments everyone it is time for all of us to stand up and say no more of this. I do not want to go back to the way it was. DO YOU?

Mark Stevenson
Mark S6 years ago

If the repubs get in next election, it's either because women don't want rights and want to be servants to men, or had no knowledge of the plots against them. Make sure you vote!!!!!!

Ira L.
Ellie L6 years ago

I just read a comment from a woman on another site (against "Obamacare") who said, "Tell government to stay out of women's healthcare." I laughed, and thought, "Tell government to stay out of a woman's right to choose!" Planned Parenthood serves so many healthy purposes, it should never be "taken away" by tbagger-republican religious extremists. Obama's healthcare is good for, and will help millions of Americans. Planned Parenthood is good for, and will help millions of Americans. Instead, focus on getting rid of Viagra, Cialis, Penis extension, etc. THOSE are the things that cause unwanted pregnancies and abortion -- NOT PLANNED PARENTHOOD. Vote Democrat, it's good for your health.

Barbara Whitney
Barbara W6 years ago

The bottom line here is that this is a woman's issue. And while I applaud those who've been through violence against them and who've chosen to keep their child or give it up, the reality is, that was their choice. Those who've chosen to end a pregnancy have also chosen and that's what choice is all about. No one has the right to choose what is best for someone else, they can only choose for themselves what is right for them personally. Frankly, there would be fewer abortions if the education was there for all to learn, but it's not and unfortunately, that will lead to more children uncared for or aborted. Even so, the reality of choice is an individual's right - not government, nor is it for anyone else to judge based upon their own sense of right or wrong. Before the Roman Church entered into the foray, and vilified the Goddess, women used herbs to prevent or end a pregnancy, until they went after the witches, who were the wise women of their time. They dispensed the healing herbs in the villages. Now, however, our herbs are under attack by GMO's and therefore have become suspect by those who hope to gain monetarily from it. Until such time as rape and incest is eradicated, there will be women who choose not to carry through with the pregnancy, and women who will choose to carry through with it. There is no reason to legislate a personal decision let alone mandate it for everyone - that is seeking control over us all. I remember when it wasn't legal and all the back alley ab

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L6 years ago