On Friday, the U.S. House voted to defund Planned Parenthood (248-177) based upon false beliefs surrounding its abortion services. The Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group, recently released several videos depicting Planned Parenthood workers discussing the sale of fetal tissue for profit, an illegal act under federal law. Shortly after their release, the videos were criticized for unethical reporting, misleading edits and referred to as contributions of a prolonged campaign of deception. Unfortunately, the videos were the basis of many Republican arguments to defund the organization in their recent House vote. Their vote to defund Planned Parenthood is deplorable and we strongly encourage the House of Representatives to consider the facts and popular opinion before making such rash decisions.

Though most of the talk surrounding Planned Parenthood is based on the abortion services that some branches of the organization offer, it should be noted that abortions only account for 3 percent of the services Planned Parenthood provides. In fact, the organization is responsible for many other basic sexual health services such as contraception, family planning, HIV and STI testing, and breast exams, to name a few.

Though much of Planned Parenthood’s financial support comes from private donations, removing federal funding from its budget may hinder access to basic sexual health care for those who wouldn’t regularly be able to afford it. According to the Guttmacher Institute in 2010, “Planned Parenthood provided about a third of the services to women who obtained contraceptive care at federally-subsidized safety-net centers.”

Lawmakers who support the sudden end of federal funding to Planned Parenthood seem to have a skewed perception of the nonprofit organization. For example, Diane Black (R–Tenn.) recently said, “Planned Parenthood can get their money back if they fully commit to what they talk about, women’s healthcare, and stop performing abortions for this year.”  

Federal funding given to Planned Parenthood is prohibited by Title X to provide abortions to those who are not in medical need or in cases of rape or incest. Essentially, those who voted to defund Planned Parenthood cut money that did not even go toward the issue they are trying to stop.

Planned Parenthood dissenters simply are not thinking about any of the consequences to removing funding for a pivotal, national organization. While the cause and effect aren’t necessarily directly linked, closing Planned Parenthood facilities across the country has been closely correlated to various HIV outbreaks. For example, Scott County, Ind., has been battling a recent HIV outbreak since the closing of its only Planned Parenthood back in 2013; the clinic that was closed didn’t even provide abortion services.

Aside from the increase in HIV cases, unplanned pregnancies will inevitably rise as well. Unfortunately, these are only a few of the unintended consequences of defunding such an important organization. Other repercussions may be more severe.

Furthermore, polls taken by Hart Research associates found that 63 percent of registered voters are opposed to defunding Planned Parenthood, causing one to wonder why the decision was made in the first place. The recent House vote seems like a strategic political move with no regard for what the public actually supports. Basing their argument solely on accusations made against Planned Parenthood that were proven false further makes the Republicans’ case irrational. Any videos made by anti-abotion activists posing as Planned Parenthood patrons were proven to be heavily edited to contain material that was not in fact related to what was actually happening at the time.

Investigating leadership within Planned Parenthood or any corruption that is hidden under the core of the institution is valid. U.S. citizens, including those who are registered Republicans, are well within their rights to call out any wrongdoings of Planned Parenthood and demand corrections accordingly. However, the move to completely remove federal funding from Planned Parenthood was wholly preemptive and brash. The House needs to thoroughly rethink such decisions and withhold any impulse to make such an ill-advised political statement at the expense of millions.

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