It is no secret the GOP strongly wants to defund Planned Parenthood. Before doing so I would encourage anyone who concurs to consider whether you would support that effort if doing so would actually result in an increase in abortions rather than a decrease?
There is a study, done in Colorado and funded by a private grant from 2013 through 2015, that deserves better attention. In this grant, free birth control, including long-term methods such as IUD and implants, was funded fully for any young woman requesting birth control, including teenagers. The results were astounding when compared to the 2009-13 time period. The abortion rate dropped 42 percent and the teenage pregnancy rate dropped 40 percent. It was also noted that for every dollar spent in the program, it was estimated to save the Colorado Medicaid program $5.85.
Approximately 95 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services are for birth control, sexually transmitted disease screening and treatment, and other women’s health issues. Only 4 percent of visits concern abortion, and no government money goes toward abortion. Given Colorado’s dramatic experiment, which ironically was discontinued due to concerns that it was encouraging sexual activity among young adults, we need to attack this important issue with an evidence-based solution. When will legislatures (and many parents) learn they can’t legislate or moralize against teenage sexual activity?
If what you truly want to do is reduce teenage pregnancy and abortions, it is imperative that you look at this study, which reduced them by 40 percent or more. If Congress defunds Planned Parenthood, it should expect that research indicates the results may be the opposite of what they expect. The best law you could pass to decrease abortion rates and teenage pregnancy is to increase funding for birth control and sexual education, far and away the primary function of Planned Parenthood. I urge you, as a physician of almost 30 years who has never performed abortions, but who has spent my career providing family planning help and bringing more than 1,000 babies into the world, to ponder this solid evidence.
I have always recognized, as a family doctor, that the best thing we can do for adolescents is to provide sex education, education on birth control and free birth control (or low cost as possible) in a nonjudgmental fashion. This study dramatically supports what I saw through my years of experience. We need to support Planned Parenthood and its mission, not just to provide birth control, but to save the unborn mistakenly conceived through ignorance or lack of contraception.
I have written my congressmen, have you?
The following link describes the study in more detail.
Wayne Ruby, M.D., is a family physician in Moscow.