Let’s not defund a century of progress

Hannah Vogel, Opinions Editor

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Margaret Sanger, birth control and women’s rights activist, founded Planned Parenthood in 1916. Over the past century, Planned Parenthood has provided women access to contraception, testing for sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy tests and safe abortions. President Trump remains “committed to defunding Planned Parenthood as long as they continue to perform abortions and [relocate] their funding to community health centers that provide comprehensive healthcare for women.”  

The press to defund Planned Parenthood is part of the Republican Congress’s plan to dismantle Obamacare. “Congressional Republicans have tried for years to zero out all federal funding for Planned Parenthood because the group provides abortion services,” says an article in CNNPolitics.

I believe women are entitled to their rights: the right to health care, the right to choose. No matter the political party, we must agree that the government cannot defund women’s rights.

Planned Parenthood provides young women, who may have no other place to turn, with cheaper alternatives for pregnancy tests, IUDs, STD testing, health care and birth control. It is vital to our society. It is a woman’s right to have access to health care. Planned Parenthood is not just about women’s health, but also equal rights for women. And, a man, such as President Trump—with his towers and White House to hide behind—cannot begin to speak for women’s health. Mr. Trump may have an idea about what he thinks is best for this country, but he does not know what is best for women and women’s health.

Anemia testing, cholesterol screening, diabetes screening, physical exams, flu vaccines, help for people to quit smoking, high blood pressure screening, tetanus vaccines, thyroid screening—why should we defund these vital services? The defunding of Planned Parenthood “would result in roughly 400,000 women losing access to care” (the Guardian).

The disapproval for planned parenthood stems from their performing abortions; however, abortion services only account for three-percent (Washington Post). Forty-two percent of Planned Parenthood’s services are STI/STD testing and treatment, thirty-four percent contraception, nine percent cancer screening and prevention, eleven percent other women’s health services and one percent other services.

If we continue to defund women’s health and women’s access to safe treatment, we deny women their fundamental rights. “Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms… without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status” (Article II of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Furthermore, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person” (Article III of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights). These rights are guaranteed by 50 of the 58 member states—the United States is one of the signatories.

We are guaranteed these fundamental rights… Wait, not in the case of choice.

“All men are created equal…” Wait, not women, too.

The defunding of women’s health care is unconstitutional if not simply unjust. By making access to safe abortions difficult for some women and denying simple access to health care, are we not compromising the right to women’s “security of person?” Abortions will still be performed, but they will be unsafe—women who want abortions have their “right to life,” do they not?  Furthermore, Planned Parenthood’s cancer screenings and STD treatment provide women security for their health—health care is a fundamental right; without it the security of our health cannot be assured, nor the security of our lives. So why deny it?

The only reason the Republican Congress wants to defund Planned Parenthood is to deny abortions. That is blind, if not ignorant, to the larger purpose of the institution. If we are allowed freedom of speech, does that not include freedom of choice? The government does not regulate women’s bodies; it cannot. That is unconstitutional.

Planned Parenthood provides far more than abortion services and should not be defunded; we need to protect women’s  right to choose.

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