For the past few years conservatives have backed initiatives to see Planned Parenthood defunded, shut down, or at least more strictly regulated. The question often posed in this discussion is “What would women do without Planned Parenthood?” The abortion giant claims a vital role in providing women’s health services such as cancer screenings, STD tests, pregnancy tests and referrals. Without access to its low-cost care, many women would go with these needs unmet, it argues.
However compelling at face value, that argument fails to take in the entire scenario. The health services provided at Planned Parenthood clinics are not comprehensive but require referrals to other healthcare providers after rudimentary screenings. For example, no mammograms are provided in any Planned Parenthood clinics; only physical exams which could then lead to a referral. The main services provided by Planned Parenthood, according to its own reporting are contraception, STI/STD testing and treatment, and pregnancy testing.
However, Planned Parenthood reports each service individually, rather than each visit. So a woman may come in for an abortion and also receive a pregnancy test, STD test, and contraception. Each of those services is added up separately– and thus Planned Parenthood was able to say in 2015 that abortion accounted for only 3% of its work.
Finally, the scene is crowded with 13,540 other types of health clinics that provide for women’s healthcare, mostly at a low cost as community health centers. In comparison, Planned Parenthood has fewer than 700 clinics open. Without Planned Parenthood, women can easily get health needs taken care of elsewhere. (Read more about community health clinics in the AFA Journal.)
In observing January as Sanctity of Life Month, consider and share these nine reasons women can do without Planned Parenthood - and gain more benefits by going elsewhere:
- Other health centers are more numerous and therefore more widespread and convenient to reach than Planned Parenthood clinics. A woman is 20 times more likely to find a community health center near her than she is to be able to get in the car and drive to a Planned Parenthood.
- Healthcare at community clinics is typically provided free or at a very low cost based on income, whereas Planned Parenthood also charges based on a sliding scale at the same time as collecting substantial payments for every abortion.
- Community clinics are nonprofits funded by private donations from individuals, churches, charities, and other local entities. They create little to no tax burden, quite an exception from Planned Parenthood’s heavy drain on taxpayer dollars.
- Other health clinics are more likely to have the necessary equipment or maintain good relations with providers who can offer the health screenings that women need. Even small, local offices often have basic radiology machines or a working agreement whereby they can refer their patients to a nearby hospital or clinic.
- These clinics are often creative in the way they meet their communities’ needs. Many have mobile units that are more cost-effective or accessible for needs like sonograms or blood work.
- Nonprofit or low-cost clinics often belong to a larger network of affiliates or are members under an umbrella organization. These ties help lower costs, maintain accountability and operating standards, and make it easier to find clinic listings. They can be searched for on websites like getyourcare.org and freeclinics.com, to name a few.
- Clinics that don’t center on promoting abortions and contraception are more likely to give a fair assessment of a patient’s options and full disclosure of what is best for her. And unlike Planned Parenthood, they have the facilities and professional standing to give comprehensive treatment for overall health rather than focusing on one aspect.
- Health clinics that are faith-based or operate as a community outreach have programs for longer-term care, continuing beyond the need that first brought a patient into the clinic. These may include health-related issues such as preventative care or rehabilitation for an underlying cause that led to a health problem, or it may be related to broader issues such as family counseling, parenthood classes, or job skills.
- Faith-centered clinics, or those that receive support and volunteers from churches or religious groups, may recommend and connect people to churches and ministry programs. In the long-term, the goal of community clinics is to build relationships with people that will bring change for the better in every area of their lives.