The Washington Post has been busy this week going to bat for Planned Parenthood.
With the abortion giant potentially in danger of being defunded under a new Republican healthcare plan, WaPo has been working hard to convince its readers of the apparent dangers should this come to pass. On Monday, the news outlet published an article entitled “Defunding Planned Parenthood could overwhelm other clinics, leave women with few options.” And just two days later, their editorial board proclaimed: “There’s No Way to Replace Planned Parenthood.”
Unfortunately for WaPo, a world without Planned Parenthood wouldn’t be nearly as grim as the portrait they paint.
But let’s look at their arguments. The bedrock claim behind both articles is that the federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) which would receive the federal money formerly allocated to Planned Parenthood are ill-equipped to handle the added strain of additional patients. This assertion, however, is very much speculative — as evidenced by the use of the word “could” rather than “will” in the title of the first piece.
It is also highly interesting that Kim Soffen, author of the first article, bases her speculation off of claims made by the Guttmacher Institute — the research arm of Planned Parenthood:
The suggestion that FQHCs become the main source of publicly funded family planning care is a matter of political convenience, not a viable policy proposal.
The editorial board echoes Soffen in the second article, and once again uses claims sourced from Guttmacher to argue that defunding Planned Parenthood will leave women without access to health care:
OF ALL the magical thinking that has gone into Republican proposals to replace Obamacare, none has been more fanciful than the argument accompanying efforts to defund Planned Parenthood. The yarn that has been spun is that other health-care providers would easily absorb the patients left adrift if Planned Parenthood could no longer receive Medicaid reimbursements. In truth, there is no way community health-care centers cited by Republicans as an alternative could fill the gap. In truth, millions of women would lose access to critical health care.
Setting aside for a moment WaPo’s questionable use of Planned Parenthood’s own research to justify their claims, the truth is that women do have other low-cost options for health care outside of Planned Parenthood. In fact, more women already use these options.
And although it might be somewhat challenging at first for those other clinics to absorb the additional new patients who would come to them were Planned Parenthood to be defunded, a look at the numbers shows that the impact on these clinics’ workloads would only be a single-digit percentage increase.
Studies have found that for every one Planned Parenthood office, there are 23 similar health centers:
There are a total of 14,878 health centers (10,500 FQHC Service Sites, 244 Look-Alikes, and 4,134 RHCs) to 639 Planned Parenthood centers, yielding a ratio of 23 health centers for every one Planned Parenthood.
Bills in the House and the Senate to defund Planned Parenthood would reallocate their funding to federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) which offer more comprehensive health care to women, men, and children. Annually, these FQHCs serve 25 million Americans while Planned Parenthood only serves 2.4 million.
With over $500 million in additional funding redirected to them, it is logical to conclude that FQHCs would not be too hard-pressed to absorb a less than 10 percent increase in patients. And while Soffen’s article does point out that women in certain parts of the country would have to travel further to receive care if Planned Parenthood is defunded, FQHCs are overall more accessible than Planned Parenthood nationwide and serve over 10 times as many patients.
When given a choice, shouldn’t our lawmakers use our tax dollars to fund health clinics which serve more of us, provide more comprehensive care, and are more accessible? Perhaps The Washington Post ought to do a little more research before continuing their unquestioning support for America’s largest abortion provider.
Photo credit: American Life League via Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0