On Tuesday, Sept. 28, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, testified and was questioned at a hearing on Capitol Hill in front of Republicans in Congress as they renewed their call for the federal government to defund the women’s health organization.

The controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood intensified after an anti-abortion group recently released a video showing an organization official discussing selling fetal tissue for profit, which Richards denied in her statements.

Planned Parenthood legally donates fetal tissue for scientific research but makes no money from the donations, according to The Associated Press.

Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz said at the Congressional hearing that Planned Parenthood is “an organization that doesn’t need federal subsidy.”

Planned Parenthood absolutely needs government funding in order to do what it does best: help women in poverty who cannot help themselves.

Forty-two percent of all services provided by Planned Parenthood in 2013-2014 were STD screenings, which saved the lives of millions of women.

Thirty-four percent of the services rendered were providing contraception, 21 percent were other medical services and 3 percent were abortion services, according to Planned Parenthood’s latest annual report.

Whether or not we believe women should have the right to an abortion, we should all agree that women have a right to live.

If we fight for the life of the child, we should also be fighting for the life of the mother.

The government funded $528 million in 2014 to Planned Parenthood, according to the report, making up over 40 percent of its revenue.

Government funding for Planned Parenthood comes from Medicaid and Title X, both of which are targeted at lower-income Americans, according to NPR.

One argument in support of the federal defunding of Planned Parenthood is that taxpayers should not be paying for abortions.

However, Title X does not allow any funds to be put toward abortion services, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.

Medicaid funds are used to fund abortions only in cases of rape, incest, to protect the life of the mother or in other cases where an abortion is medically necessary, according to NPR.

If such a small percentage of the government’s money is funding abortions to begin with, what would be the positive outcome of defunding Planned Parenthood?

Politicians using this controversy as a figurative podium to stand on are neglecting the fact that although there are other women’s health organizations dedicated to helping women, Planned Parenthood provides services at affordable rates to women in poverty that other organizations would not.

In 2012, Planned Parenthood served more than 2.8 million women, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

Of that 2.8 million, 79 percent of those receiving services from Planned Parenthood lived at 150 percent of the federal poverty level or lower, according to the Government Accountability  Office report.

A patient named Colleen shared the experience she had with Planned Parenthood while she was struggling to pay bills and find affordable healthcare.

“If I hadn’t gone to Planned Parenthood, I would not have gotten my diagnosis of stage two breast cancer,” she said, according to Planned Parenthood. “I might not even be here today.”

The root of the stigma against Planned Parenthood is that the organization is largely associated with abortion; if it were associated with what it mainly did for women, the perception would be different.

By providing sex education and birth control to 1.5 million young people and families, Planned Parenthood has helped decrease the teenage birth, pregnancy and abortion rates to the lowest they have been in 20 years, according to the report.

The common goal of both pro-life and pro-choice supporters should be to minimize the number of abortions, teen pregnancies and other unfortunate situations.

Those numbers will only continue to go down if organizations like Planned Parenthood are able to educate and provide healthcare services to families and women in need.                                              


Dissenting opinion: Planned Parenthood not needed for women’s health