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Planned Parenthood Weighs In on the Politics of Women's Health Care

Monday, April 25, 2011

Welcome to Politics Bites, where every afternoon at It's A Free Country, we bring you the unmissable quotes from the morning's political conversations on WNYC. Today on the Brian Lehrer Show, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, discussed the work her organization does and the recent Congressional battle over the group's funding.

Planned Parenthood has been on the budget chopping block and even though the Republican effort to de-fund the women's health provider mostly failed this time, it has been — and remains — a hot button issue in Congress. Already, it's illegal to use federal funds to provide abortion services so Planned Parenthood provides these services through other financial means, but the group is still seen mainly seen as an abortion provider by many conservatives.

A moral issue?

Planned Parenthood's president, Cecile Richards said abortion may be a moral issue on a small scale, but on a big scale, it's about choice.

Abortion is one of those issues that is morally complex for every individual but I think at the end of the day, where American people are on this is that it's such a personal decision. And, even in very conservative states, the state of South Dakota is a good example, where there was an attempt to completely ban all abortions...the voters rejected that kind of ballot initiative because they believed at the end of the day that these kinds of difficult decisions are best made by women and their doctors and their family members.

Richards said Planned Parenthood has polled Americans about what concerns them most about reproductive health care those polls show they're much more concerned about teen pregnancy and unintended pregnancy and want women to have access to information that will bring the abortion rate down.

Losing funding is losing big

Planned Parenthood acts like any other health care service or hospital, according to Richards, but it can also reach people that other groups don't reach. Of the organization's 800 centers, 72 percent of them are either in rural areas or in medically under served communities, she said. And in response to a recent comment by Fox News pundits that women should just get their pap smear at Walgreens (something the pharmacy chain doesn't offer), she said there must be some confusion about how women actually obtain their health care.

We offer services to very low income and working people without insurance just like hospitals do...And one of the things that came up in this whole conversation in Congress is we actually are the most affordable provider of family planning and a lot of these services and that's why in many states we are the provider of family planning because we are able see many many more folks at an affordable price and provide very high quality so, it's really a question of whether we really believe folks in this country should have access to affordable and high quality preventive care.

The funds that Planned Parenthood receives from the government are specifically for services like cancer screening, birth control and for STD treatment and testing, Richards said, and with this money and privately raised funds, they still aren't able to service enough people that need them, let alone sustaining any cuts from the Fed.

The real tragedy in this country to me is that federal funds for those services...are so low that we actually, far from being fungible, we actually have to go and raise private dollars to supplement the services to make sure that we can see every woman that needs services...We see three million patients every year, we're the largest family planning provider in the country, and yet in the U.S. we have the highest unintended pregnancy rate out of any western country because there are still millions more women who need affordable birth control that can't get it.

States take matters into their own hands

Richards said many bills are already in the works on the state level to either ban Planned Parenthood from providing services in their states or make it difficult for women to access their services, and Planned Parenthood is concerned about it.

There are, I think more than 900 bills that were filed during this legislative session and a lot of them are right at this sort of inflection point here of decision by their state legislatures. Unfortunately with a real sweep last November, these are much more extreme legislatures in terms of being against women's health care access. We are working in several states to try to ensure that women don't lose access to health care services but there are many bad bills pending and some have already been signed.

Some states have pushed for proposals like requiring fetal ultra sounds before a woman can get an abortion. Richards said proposals like these do not help women get better care.

We counsel women and young people about questions that, quite frankly, a lot of doctors won't talk to them about...How do we help you plan your family and get the information you need that's not bias, that gives you everything you need to make healthy decision for you and your family? And if we could do more of that in this country and take the politics out of women's health care, we'd have a healthier country, we'd have healthier women and healthier families.

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Comments [19]

Ed from Larchmont

Let's hope that Ms. Richards turns away from this life of killing.

Apr. 27 2011 08:12 AM
Lexxus281

@ Ed from Larchmont

Oh Ed...lest I forget about you....

You know nothing of Planned Parenthood and their revenue. If you did, you wouldn't have just made an idiot out of yourself by giving a false fact to dissuade Americans with your own ignorance of the true facts.

Less than 3% of what Planned Parenthood does is abortion based services. Even Steven Colbert knows that...oh....Ed....you can't really get pap smears and mammograms at Walgreens either.....

Ed....I think your rationalization in your arguments are "Unplanned" as well. You and jgarbuz can get together and burn your books...while your at it...burn your bras also...unless you have no uterus? If that is the case pray for one at least an hour a week.....and stay out of mine.

Apr. 25 2011 05:28 PM
Lexxus281

@jgarbuz
I think you need to throw away your copy of "Brave New World", and create one.
Thank you for making my world feel like a more ignorant place to be just from having to read your commentary.

What are you now?? Like 137? I will watch for you on the Smuckers Jar on Good Morning America.

Apr. 25 2011 05:13 PM
Lexxus281

It never ceases to amaze me that people who are totally ignorant on topics, such as what Planned Parenthood does or does not do, feel they deserve to tell their own skewed version of the facts....

Your personal feelngs, your religious leanings, or your lies based on feeling as opposed to actual facts:

Case in point...Rep. John Kyle on Senate house floor, and I quote,

"90% of what Planned Parenthood does is abortion services."

The next day his office released a statement in regards to his statement...

"The remarks made were not intended to be factual statements."

I would hope that an elected official would try to present to Americans a case that is based solely on facts as opposed to lies. Shame on him...and what an embarrassment to his party.

My point here. Please keep your statements fact based as opposed to feeling based, or worse yet, out-right lies! If you present arguments based on conjecture...you only make yourself look like an idiot....Right John????

Apr. 25 2011 04:49 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Well, I don't about an "overabundance of humanity" but I do know that the poorest dirt farmer in Africa and Afghanistan, living in a one room straw hut, knows where his sons and daughters are. The patriarchal family unit is still operative in these "backwards" places. A man still knows where and who his children are. How many western men can say that nowadays?

But I have no problem eliminating marriage, the patriarchal family system, and such, if an alternative system of creating and rearing children is implemented. Maybe the state or corporations eventually manufacturing the children they need test tubes and raising them collectively, as in orphanages, and eliminating "fathers" and "mothers" and family. That wouldn't bother me. I'm for moving on to new methods, but I can't see how our present, half broken system can maintain civilization.

The patriarchal nuclear family was once the atom of civilized society, and if that has become an increasingly ad hoc, non-viable system of child production and child rearing, then we should move on to something radically new as Aldous Huxley prophesied in Brave New World some 70 years ago. Our present trajectory is unsustainable and leading to social disintegration.

Apr. 25 2011 12:37 PM
Phoebe

@jgarbuz: "Not to provide society with an adequate supply is shirking a social responsibility". You really are showing some very nasty colors. Look around the planet - there is an over-abundance of humanity, and I don't think that any choice an individual woman makes of her own free will is greatly affecting this. However, your desire to want women to be your broodmares does indeed illustrate that we should watch the kind of immigrants we let in, lest their backward views from the old country permeate too far. You are a sick individual.

Apr. 25 2011 12:15 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

Pheobe, in no way am I interested in your womb whatsoever, so you need have no fear from me in that regard. But until we have a "Brave New World," where children are manufactured in factories and raised by the state, fathers and society also should have some say on how suh important personal decisions affect society as a whole. In China they decided on a two child policy, and if you wanted to have more, they could put you in jail. I am not suggesting that women who want no children be put in jail, but I am saying that society has some say in such matters.

Today, some countries that are rapidly losing population are providing monetary incentives for women to have more children. To believe that it is none of society's business is nonsense, and doesn't conform to long term social realities. Society needs children in order there be new generations of workers and taxpayers to care for you when you are old. Not to provide society with an adequate supply is shirking a social responsibility. To think we can continually depend on increasing new immigration to cover our own failure to live up to societal obligations is to ignore other realities. New immgrants bring new costs and difficult social problems as well.

If we continue on this path of ignoring or denying social realities and social obligations, we can only blame consequent social disintegration on ourselves.

Also, yeah, fathers should have a legal say as well in such decisions.

Apr. 25 2011 12:09 PM
Phoebe

@John A: Perhaps the increase in time between childhood and marriage has grown due to improved education & career opportunities, and not abortion?

Any why do you assume a moral void, just because a younger demographic doesn't share your so-called morals?

You Mad Men throwbacks really are crawling out from under your rocks today.

Apr. 25 2011 11:56 AM
Phoebe

@jgarbuz: Of course society, and specifically individuals such as yourself, have ZERO say over my womb. To imagine that you do, is to show yourself to be a controlling misogynist. What other individual and personal rights would your myopic world view grant control over?

Apr. 25 2011 11:52 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

Unfortunately, Pheobe, I don't have a womb, or otherwise I would still have my son. The fact that as a female you have a womb and therefore have that power of life or death, or usually even proprietary custody rights after birth, does not necessarily give you libertarian God-like powers that society has no right to put controls over!

And I myself am an immigrant. Born in a camp in Germany, with no homeland, we were waiting to go to Palestine but the Arabs and British were not letting us get through, and so we were LUCKY that Truman finally let us in. But most immigrants today do have a homeland are not forced to leave it in most cases. It is a choice, and not because they were rounded up and put into camps and have no homeland somewhere else.

But getting back to women's rights regarding what is formed in their womb, I do think that society as a whole DOES have some right to have some say about it, and has had such a right ever since the dawn of civilization, when we moved up from the chimpanzee stage of development. We are now regressing back to the bonobo stage, where matriarchy rules but society regresses.

Apr. 25 2011 11:18 AM
John A.

It has been studied and documented that since the legalization of Abortion, that a time pause between childhood and marriage has grown. Has the presence of accessible abortions created the need for more abortions? Undoubtedly.
I study the blogs of people in this inbetween age and the things they say about sex and drugs and just about anything. There is too often just this total ignorance of the value of life, respect, love even, and God certainly. There has even been a rise in satanism in the moral void, I have seen.
Morality had and has a purpose, let us not forget that.

Apr. 25 2011 11:15 AM
Phoebe

@ jgarbuz. Not the same thing at all. An unborn foetus is a collection of cells. Nothing more, nothing less. The fate of such cell clusters cannot be compared to a trade in living humans. And you have ZERO right over any womb, other than your own.

Last I looked America was teeming with immigrants, and has always been dependent on such. Less than 1% of the population are native Americans. I guess you're refering to immigrants who have a different hue from yourself?

Apr. 25 2011 11:02 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

To Pheobe

Same arguments southern slave owners used. If you don't want a slave, don't get one! Don't tell us what to do with our property! It's not the right of your ilk to dispossess us of our private property, our slaves!

The fact is, the womb is not the sole private property of the female. Even on my land or garden, there are things I cannot do if it hurts society. Abortion has cost America over 40 million native-born taxpaying citizens, thereby making us DEPENDENT on importing immigrants! Society DOES have a stake on what women do with the fruit of their wombs!.

Apr. 25 2011 10:48 AM
Sharon MD

@Ed: Alternative hypothesis - standing outside a clinic and praying does not help prevent unplanned pregnancy. Preventing high quality sex ed in the schools does not help prevent unplanned pregnancy. Shaming women for having sex does not help prevent unplanned pregnancy. Failing to provide a high quality education and hope for a good future for poor women does not help prevent unplanned pregnancy.

Apr. 25 2011 10:46 AM
Mason from New York

In the discussion of abortion, no one ever mentions that the US has the highest infant mortality rate of any nation in the Western World. In some communities (poor) the rate of infant mortality is equal to or surpasses that of a 'Third World' nation. The anti-abortionist need to get a grip on reality.

Apr. 25 2011 10:44 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Or could it be that Planned P.'s strategy of family planning doesn't work?

Apr. 25 2011 10:41 AM
Sharon MD from NYC

I work at Planned Parenthood. PP revenues are NOT primarily from abortion. Everyone has the option of seeing their ultrasound. They do refer for mammograms. You simply do not know what goes on inside clinics. PP provides necessary care for women that many women can get nowhere else. Women know they can go there and get what they need without judgement from staff.

Apr. 25 2011 10:33 AM
Phoebe

Ed; what good does it do "praying" to your invented God? If you wish to reduce abortions, you can do so through education, spreading contraception etc. If you don't want an abortion, don't get one. Simple. It is not your right - or the right of any of your ilk - to tell others what to do based on your phony "God".

Apr. 25 2011 10:31 AM
Ed from Larchmont

Most of the revenues of Planned P. are from abortion, and they promote abortion because it makes money: see Abby Johnson's book 'Unplanned'. They discourage ultrasound, etc. And they don't do mammograms, Ms. Richards was mistaken (see Lila Rose). Local hospitals and doctors provide the services of Planned P. and more.
In the 1980s we found out about the Gulag Archipelago, the sewage disposal system of the Soviet Union. Planned P. is the sewage disposal system of the U.S. Every week I spend an hour at one of her clinics praying for the human beings who will be slaughtered there that day.
It's appropriate that the budget was hung up on abortion: it's the grave moral issue of our time, as slavery was in the 1900s. And this woman is the president of the confederacy. And her fate will be the same.

Apr. 25 2011 09:58 AM

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