the Cause

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What's at stake

Extreme politicians are trying to defund and shut down Planned Parenthood health centers. Planned Parenthood, backed by its 10 million supporters, is fighting to keep its doors open.

• To be clear: “Defunding” Planned Parenthood is something of a misnomer. The organization does not receive a check from the government every year. The $550 million in annual government funding comes as reimbursements for preventive services rendered to patients on public health programs.

• These services include birth control, cancer screenings, HIV tests, STI testing and treatment, and well-woman visits. Federal law prohibits funding for abortion except in rare and limited circumstances.

• “Defunding” the organization would mean that the 1.5 million Planned Parenthood patients who access this preventive care through Medicaid, Title X, or other publicly funded health program would no longer be able to do so. Defunding Planned Parenthood essentially means cutting low-income patients off of preventive reproductive health care.

• Blocking low-income women, men, and young people from accessing care at Planned Parenthood health centers would have a devastating impact on patients across the country.

• 1.5 million Planned Parenthood patients access preventive services like birth control, cancer screenings, HIV tests, STI testing and treatment, and well-woman visits through Medicaid, Title X, or other publicly funded health programs.

• 75 percent of Planned Parenthood patients live with incomes of 150 percent of the federal poverty level or less — the equivalent of $36,375 a year for a family of four in 2015.

• More than half of Planned Parenthood health centers are in rural or underserved areas, and in 21 percent of counties with a Planned Parenthood health center, it is the only safety-net family planning provider.

• Nearly 60 percent of women in the U.S. report seeing an ob-gyn on a regular basis and 35 percent view their ob-gyn as their main source of care. This is especially true for low-income women and women of color.

• The idea that other providers could absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients has been resoundingly dismissed by experts, including the executive director of the American Public Health Association, who called the idea “ludicrous.” The Guttmacher Institute recently released a report showing that Planned Parenthood health centers are critical to the health care safety net, delivering irreplaceable high-quality contraceptive care to a majority of women who rely on public funds for health care.

• As an example, Planned Parenthood operates 22 locations in 15 Wisconsin counties, with just two providing abortion services. A survey conducted by Health Management Associates concluded that in seven of those counties there are no viable alternatives to Planned Parenthood for family planning services. In four other counties, there is only one viable alternative. Two counties that would have no alternative if Planned Parenthood were to close — Racine and Walworth — are part of House Speaker Paul Ryan’s district.

• When Texas eliminated Planned Parenthood from its state family planning program in 2010, researchers found that women had reduced access to the full range of contraceptive methods and likely experienced higher rates of unintended pregnancy. Specifically, researchers found a 35 percent decline in women using the most effective methods of birth control and a dramatic 27 percent spike in births among women who had previously used injectable contraception.

• Another study revealed the rate of pregnancy-related deaths in Texas has nearly doubled since 2010. Although Black women were 11 percent of all pregnant women in the state, they accounted for nearly 29 percent of all maternal deaths.

• Investing in family planning programs makes economic sense. Every $1 spent on publicly funded family planning services saves approximately $7 in Medicaid expenditures that would otherwise be needed to pay the medical costs of pregnancy, delivery, and early childhood care.

Planned Parenthood Federation of America, 2017 Supporter Toolkit