Morrison: Planned Parenthood defunding ignores, harms women's health

The United States Senate voted on Thursday Dec. 3 to defund Planned Parenthood. This historic bill not only would eliminate Planned Parenthood’s federal funding, but would also repeal huge portions of the Affordable Care Act. While President Barack Obama will almost surely veto this bill, Congress may seek to override the president’s veto.

In the past few years, many members of Congress have consistently attacked funding for public health services. This is the first time, however, that such a bill has reached the desk of the President. Despite the ultimate unlikeliness that this bill will become law, the fact that the bill has come so far is alarming.

The fight of many Republican politicians to defund Planned Parenthood is only growing stronger with time. In the past few months especially, the attacks on the organization have intensified both in Congress and in the general public.

The most obvious issue associated with Planned Parenthood is the organization’s abortion services. Pro-life sentiments are a key component of the rhetoric from those attempting to defund Planned Parenthood. Still, many people are somehow overlooking the numerous other health services the organization provides.

While many people use this argument to justify funding Planned Parenthood, access to safe abortions should be reason enough to keep the organization alive. Despite your stance in the highly controversial pro-life versus pro-choice debate, there is statistical evidence that suggests women’s health is put into danger when access to safe and legal abortions is denied.

There has recently been a growing discussion regarding self-induced abortions. This is prominent in Texas especially, where more than half of the state’s abortion clinics have been forced to shut down. This scarcity of resources has led an increasing number of women to attempt terminating their pregnancies on their own. The Texas Policy Evaluation Project from the University of Texas at Austin found that between 100,000–240,000 women from the ages of 18–49 have attempted self-induced abortions.

The idea that women are taking such a procedure into their own hands clearly shows the need to keep Planned Parenthood clinics open and easily accessible. The Texas case indicates that simply shutting down abortion clinics will not stop women from seeking other, dangerous means of terminating unwanted pregnancies.

This is an immediate and pressing danger concerning women’s health. Women who cannot afford abortions or cannot access them are forced to find other, unsafe means of receiving abortions such as the infliction of physical trauma, the use of various drugs or unverified homeopathic remedies. One common method is the use of misoprostol—a pill that terminates pregnancies. This pill, however, causes intense cramps, bleeding and other side effects that could be extremely dangerous. Without the guide of a medical professional, women are unable to gauge the severity of their reactions.

It is clear that a bill defunding Planned Parenthood would not be effective in preventing women from receiving abortions. Instead, the bill encourages them to find riskier methods of doing so. Regardless of your stance on abortions, ensuring that they are accessible and affordable is imperative in protecting the safety and wellbeing of countless women.