Founded in the early 20th century by Margaret Sanger, the non-profit Planned Parenthood is seen by many as just another provider of reproductive health services throughout U.S. communities, including cancer screening, routine gynecological examinations and contraception.
Due to its provisions of abortion, however, the name of this organization has come to figure prominently in the fight over freedom and rights in relation to reproduction. On one hand, religious conservatives see Planned Parenthood as an epicenter in the fight against abortion - especially for the way they regard it as forcing taxpayers to directly support ending the life of millions of unborn human beings. For Planned Parenthood defenders, the organization is at the center of the fight for women’s rights and free choice in decisions about their own bodies and is the object of an illegitimate campaign aimed at the elimination of reproductive rights, particularly for poor women.
Given this wide contrast in evaluations, the fact that Planned Parenthood receives 40% of financial support from government medicaid and title X family planning (approximately 500 million/year) is met with very different responses. On both sides, the extent of funding and overall support for the organization has become an intensely moral issue - with one side seeing Planned Parenthood as representing a crucial good in the world, and the other side seeing it as representing a pernicious evil in the world. For liberals, withdrawing public funding for Planned Parenthood is thus seen as a threat to women’s health - given how young and low income women are often beneficiaries of the financial support to receive non-abortion related medical needs. And for conservatives, cutting funding is a crucial step forward - with the emphasis other Planned Parenthood services seen a strategic distraction that continues to allow millions of dollars of American tax dollars to subsidize something many Americans view as morally reprehensible.
Mary Jacksteit, Jacob Hess
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