Politics December 15, 2016
As the Obama administration nears its end, President Obama has issued a final rule that prevents states from defunding family-planning institutions like Planned Parenthood.
This new measure prevents states from withholding Title X family-planning money, which distributes government funds to reproductive health services. Outside of abortion, these services include providing contraception, treatment for sexually transmitted infections, pregnancy care and cancer screenings.
While federal law only allows government abortion funding for life or death, rape or incest cases, anti-abortion groups and various politicians have argued to ban any public payments for abortion services.
Thus, Obama’s new measure will “strengthen access to essential services like cancer screenings and contraception for some of the most vulnerable patients in this country,” says Dr. Karen A. Scott, chief medical officer at the Department of Health and Human Services.
The new rule is scheduled to take effect two days before President-elect Donald Trump’s Jan. 20, 2017 inauguration, but anti-abortion groups have pressed the president-elect to repeal the measure. However, rescinding this new rule would require a new rule-making process or a joint disapproval by the House and the Senate.
And although it would be a complicated process to reverse, Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation, argued in a statement that “the fight is not over.”
With a Trump administration underway, Planned Parenthood has been under a national spotlight. Many supporters have even taken to donating money in Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s name in order to protest his anti-abortion stance. Since then, around 50,000 donations have been made in the VP-elect’s honor.
And while much of the battle is centered around a pro-life versus pro-choice argument, many Planned Parenthood advocates have argued the company’s importance in protecting women’s reproductive health.
With approximately 650 health centers around the United States, Planned Parenthood is one of the nation’s leading providers of affordable health care for men and women and one of the largest providers of sex education.
And while abortion services are a big argument against Planned Parenthood, the 2014-15 report shows that abortion made up only three percent of services performed. On the other hand, 31 percent of services performed were for contraception, 45 percent for STI/STD testing and treatment and seven percent for cancer screening and prevention.
For this reason, Cecile Richards argues, “We will not back down and we will continue to fight for our patients’ access to care. Every person deserves the right to control their own bodies, their own health and their own well-being without politicians getting in the way.”
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