Planned Parenthood’s exit from the federal Title X family planning program has spurred an array of allies to sound alarms about “millions of women” losing access to cancer screenings and birth control. The charge is baseless and absurd.
Women will still have many providers and facilities from which to obtain health care and contraception if Planned Parenthood is no longer an option. Federally qualified health clinics and other rural and community health centers outnumber Planned Parenthood clinics by as much as 20 to one and they offer many services that Planned Parenthood does not: mammograms, immunizations, and care for medical disorders such as diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and hypothyroidism. A woman is more than a uterus, and these clinics can more holistically care for women and their families.
Planned Parenthood deceptively states that these clinics will be unable to handle the large volumes of women who can no longer receive care at Planned Parenthood. Yet their vast “spin machine” cannot obscure the data that is found easily in their annual report. All of Planned Parenthood’s services except abortion have been decreasing steadily over recent years. Women have already voted with their feet and begun to attend other family planning centers that also receive government funding but are not connected with the stigma of abortion.
If funding is diverted to organizations such as these, they have the infrastructure already in place to increase services expediently. It should also be emphasized that the large numbers of women who receive Medicaid, Medicare, Affordable Care Act plans, and other private insurances can be cared for by any private gynecologist, as nearly all physicians will accept these plans. These women are not limited to a clinic that receives Title X funding. Moreover, if Planned Parenthood has its way and succeeds in making the acquisition of contraceptives only a phone app away, women will not be limited to a clinic at all.
Sadly, the only deterrent to rapid and efficient redistribution of women’s care to other available women’s health organizations is the misinformation about Title X initiated by Planned Parenthood and spread without investigation by complicit news organizations. Some clinics that do not provide abortion have stated that they will not accept Title X funding because it imposes a “gag rule” and inserts the government into the physician-patient relationship. It is not true that there is a “gag rule.” The Protect Life rule clearly states that abortion can be mentioned as one of the options for managing an unintended pregnancy, but it must not be promoted. An abortion provider can be included on a list of those providing pregnancy services, but abortion cannot be encouraged.
Planned Parenthood’s annual report consistently shows that 96-97% of their post conception services are abortions. Clearly, abortion is “promoted” at Planned Parenthood. A “referral” for abortion is not necessary because abortions are usually privately funded. A referral would imply that the health care provider considers abortion a medically necessary service. Ending a normal physiologic process is not healthcare.
Additionally, it should be noted that governmental intrusion in the physician-patient relationship is nothing new. Insurance companies (including government-sponsored insurance) have for years been dictating to physicians the tests they can order, the drugs they can prescribe, and the procedures they can perform. It is hypocritical that pro-choice medical organizations that have long advocated for government intervention in paying for healthcare are suddenly upset that the government will no longer indirectly subsidize the medically unnecessary social intervention of abortion.
News organizations must set aside their biases and accurately educate the American public and misinformed women’s clinics about what the new Title X rules require. An example of the adverse outcomes for women due to media misinformation can be found in Texas. In 2011, the legislature substantially decreased women’s health funding in an attempt to divert funding from Planned Parenthood. Unfortunately, this also impacted non-abortion providing women’s health clinics. The state recognized their error, and women’s health funding has substantially increased in every legislative session since. Currently, women’s health funding has nearly tripled since the baseline before the cuts.
Yet the media still bemoan the (long-ago) cuts in funding, but often do not mention that there is now a large amount of funding available and women’s health indicators are much improved. Obstetrician-gynecologists in this state still (eight years later) encounter underprivileged women who do not seek contraception because they assume there is no funding available. It would be a shame if the Planned Parenthood-driven misinformation causes women and worthy clinics not to pursue the generous funding that is available to provide reliable contraception and prevent unintended pregnancies.
Planned Parenthood and its abortion-laden program is far from the only alternative women have in my state and across the country. The good news is that women now have more and better options than going to America’s abortion giant.
Ingrid Skop, M.D., is an ob-gyn who practices in San Antonio, Texas. Dr. Skop sits on the board of the American Association of Pro-Life Ob-Gyns and is an associate scholar with the Charlotte Lozier Institute.