Planned Parenthood often shares proximity with colleges and universities, and it’s easy to understand why. It’s generally acknowledged that most college students are broke, and when people have a lower income, they look for a cheaper solution. For an organization that has a reputation of offering affordable healthcare to low-income and uninsured patients, it’s a natural fit.
Recently, Planned Parenthood has announced that it is withdrawing from the federal family planning program known as Title X due to certain changes, such as the much-disputed gag rule, which makes it illegal for any organization receiving Title X funding to provide referrals to abortion services and requires that all pregnant patients be referred to prenatal care. In addition to the gag rule, another change would go into effect in 2020 forcing abortion services to be housed in separate buildings from all other services. Both of these changes by the Trump administration are specifically aimed at clinics providing abortion services, namely Planned Parenthood.
“Pro-lifers” are heralding Planned Parenthood's abandonment of its Title X funding as a win against abortion without any regard to the fact that it is currently illegal for any money provided by Title X to be used for abortion services. These changes add up to little more than bullying tactics by the current administration to force the organization out of significant funding, because if they can’t abide by the rules and regulations, they can’t receive any money. And to make matters worse, the blow doesn’t even hit its intended target. Instead, it hurts affordable healthcare progress, and more specifically the students who need it.
This impacts general health care, crisis counseling, men’s health services, vaccinations, consultations for patients who identify as LGBTQ+ and family planning services, which include access to contraceptives, STD testing, preventative screenings for breast and cervical cancer and maternal counseling. Even though Planned Parenthood is most commonly associated with abortion services, they provide all of these things. In fact, in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, abortions made up only 3.4 % of all services provided.
Insurance — and the blips in privacy that come with it — is another reason Planned Parenthood is such an important entity. Any dependent who is included in an insurance plan is not protected from the plan's owner, who can still access information about procedures performed or medications prescribed with their insurance money. For example, if a college student wants to buy contraceptives using insurance, they would not be protected from their parent’s knowing. As a result of this, patients who want to maintain a certain level of privacy often choose to pay out of pocket, which can get expensive.
The loss of the estimated $60 million from Planned Parenthood’s annual income means that prices for procedures will rise, and services they used to be able to offer to low-income or uninsured patients for free will no longer be that way. Young adults who either don’t have insurance or are choosing to pay out of pocket rely on the fact that depending on insurance status and income, some services are free or greatly reduced in cost.
A person’s decision on matters regarding their healthcare is not always based on a desire for privacy or centered on money. Some people can comfortably afford to pay out of pocket, or privacy isn’t an issue for them. Instead, Planned Parenthood is designed to serve the people who for whatever reason don’t have a full set of resources available to them. Planned Parenthood being bullied out of its Title X funding is not a win for the pro-life movement; it's an attack on affordable healthcare.