Quick Takes: Planned Parenthood Controversy

The House of Representatives recently approved a bill to strip funding from Planned Parenthood. Last Thursday, the Senate voted against these efforts to defund the women’s healthcare group.

Planned Parenthood Controversy is a Pseudo-Political Scandal, Ignoring its Importance as a Healthcare Provider

That Republicans are threatening to shut down the government over a contrived abortion scandal is laughable. This threat by the Republicans shows that, in 2015 and on the backheel of Donald Trump’s absolutely sexist campaign, basic healthcare for women in the one of the most developed countries in the world is not a necessity or a priority — all of this because of alleged misconduct by doctors during and after abortion procedures.

The whole scandal about doctors selling fetal parts after abortions already stands on very shaky ground, as it was proven over and over again that the videos taken were over-edited and did not even come close to confirming the revolting headlines anti-abortion groups were putting forward. But this is not and has never really been about abortion. House Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colorado) points out, “In fact, there were over 4 million visits to Planned Parenthood clinics last year, and over 90 percent of this was basic women’s healthcare and not abortions.” She also says that federal funds have generally not been supportive of Planned Parenthood’s abortion services and have instead been focusing on healthcare services. This shows that, through the exaggeration of Planned Parenthood as an abortion machine, conservatives are overlooking its significance as a healthcare provider for women.

This threat to shut down the government is futile, and this issue should never have turned into a political face-off. Planned Parenthood Executive Vice President Dawn Laguens said, “At least 78 percent of Planned Parenthood patients live with incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level — the equivalent of about $36,000 a year for a family of four in 2015.” Clearly, the bill planning to defund Planned Parenthood would majorly impact already impoverished communities and impede their access to affordable health care.

Defunding Planned Parenthood is not an opposition between two ideological views. This is all due to an overblown pseudo-political scandal that tries to overshadow the fact that Planned Parenthood has done more for women in America than any Republican administration ever did. 

—  MARCUS THUILLIER Senior Staff Writer

The Real Question Regarding Planned Parenthood: Is Human Fetal Tissue Actually Generating a Profit?

After the recent expose on Planned Parenthood by a group of anti-abortion activists, people were forced to confront the result of an abortion: fetal tissue. Instead of tackling the moral conundrum of abortions, let’s focus on the current allegation that Planned Parenthood may profit off of fetal tissue. It is a frightening possibility that the culture surrounding fetal tissue could change into a business model based on monetary growth.

Besides seeming unethical, it is illegal. The Health Revitalization Act of 1993 states in Sec. 498B that “it shall be unlawful to knowingly acquire, receive or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce.” This makes sense because a woman’s ability to produce fetal tissue should not be exploited for financial gain. On the other hand, it is perfectly legal for women to make a donation of fetal tissue.

In videos made against Planned Parenthood, pro-life activists claim that fetal tissue is being illegally sold for a profit. In one of the videos, a representative for Planned Parenthood said that each fetus usually ranges from $30 to $100. This may seem like a lot of money, but remember that it is only illegal if the tissue is being transferred for “valuable consideration.” According to Sec. 498B of the law, for fetal tissue to be defined as “valuable consideration,” the price must exceed all reasonable payments necessitated by the processes of transportation, preservation, quality control, implantation or storage of fetal tissue. However, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly where these expenses should be capped. Unfortunately, the line between “reasonable payments” and “valuable consideration” appears to be blurry and difficult to regulate. 

The fight between pro-life and pro-choice advocates is a distraction from the real issue. While allegations against Planned Parenthood may raise questions about the management of fetal tissue, Planned Parenthood also hugely contributes to the prevention of abortions in the first place as a provider of healthcare and preventative education. Fetal tissue is the result of abortion, but is not the cause. It is important to address the cause of abortion — restricted access to preventative education and healthcare — rather than obsessing over managing the end product of fetal tissue.

—  CASSIA POLLOCK Opinion Editor