Las Vegas Sun

September 23, 2017

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Sun Editorial:

Abortions likely to increase if Planned Parenthood is defunded

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Leah Hogsten / The Salt Lake Tribune via AP

In this Aug. 25, 2015, file photo, the Planned Parenthood Action Council holds a community rally in Salt Lake City.

To those who would defund Planned Parenthood in the name of reducing abortion, we have an impassioned plea.

Put aside your emotion, just for a moment, and listen to reason. We beg you.

If you do — if you crack open the door and allow logic to return to this issue — you’ll find that cutting funds to Planned Parenthood will do the opposite of what you think it will do. And it will hurt untold numbers of people very, very badly.

Here’s why: While it’s true that Planned Parenthood provides abortion services, it also offers family planning services that reduce unwanted pregnancies and in turn reduce abortions.

That’s worth repeating. Planned Parenthood offers family planning services, including contraception, that reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions.

This isn’t propaganda. A study by former Texas A&M University economics professor Analisa Packham (now on the Miami faculty), found that abortions rose 3.1 percent in Texas after the state cut family planning funding by more than 60 percent in 2011. In one Texas county, abortions rose from 59 in 2012 to 172 in 2014.

While it’s true that Texas’ overall abortion rate went down during those years, it’s critical to note that the teen birth rate also went up at the same time as more than 80 women’s health centers statewide shut down. This strongly suggests that many girls and young women, lacking access to responsible abortion providers, gave birth to children they would rather not have had and, in many cases, likely couldn’t afford. It also leads to questions about how many women might have turned to illicit abortion providers or even their own methods to end pregnancies.

Surely, this is not what Planned Parenthood’s opponents want.

Surely.

Consider, too, that the Trump administration recently announced it was cutting off federal funding for a national teen pregnancy prevention program started by former President Barack Obama. In Southern Nevada, that program provides family planning services and contraception to some of the community’s most disadvantaged young women, most notably those in youth detention centers.

Cutting Planned Parenthood’s federal funding would further deprive our mothers, daughters, sisters, spouses, friends and colleagues of services that empower them to protect their reproductive and sexual health.

And what’s especially painful about the defunding push is that Planned Parenthood doesn’t use federal funding for abortions. It’s barred by law from doing so.

So what would be gained by the anti-abortion movement and politicians who support it?

A political victory. That’s all. A rallying point for donations, a headline for a mailer, an applause line in a speech.

Meanwhile, women who depend on Planned Parenthood for the many critical services it provides in addition to family planning — Pap tests, breast exams, testing for sexually transmitted diseases and more — will be forced to either forgo them or seek other providers. Those providers may not be able to provide same level of specialized care provided by Planned Parenthood, may not be as accessible and are unlikely to be as affordable.

Although Planned Parenthood’s opponents claim community health centers would be able to fill the void, expert after expert has said that argument was bogus. Not only do community health centers not provide specialized family planning services and reproductive care, the network of such centers is understaffed and would not be financially able to take on all of Planned Parenthood’s patients.

The bottom line is that regardless of where you stand on abortion, defunding Planned Parenthood isn’t the answer.

It will only make matters worse.

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