By Valeria Bula
On Monday, Jan. 23, 2017, Trump began exercising his executive power, issuing three executive orders that same day. Amongst those executive orders: defunding organizations around the world that deal with abortion, including the International Planned Parenthood Federation.
Trump reinstated the “Mexico City Policy,” which blocks taxpayer dollars from being used to fund foreign non-governmental organizations that either perform or promote abortions. The policy was created by Ronald Reagan during his presidency and has since then been rescinded by Democratic presidents and reinstated by Republicans.
Planned Parenthood affiliates received $553 million in government funding in 2014— this accounted for about only 40 percent of their revenue.
The money comes in largely as reimbursements for its services provided to patients on public programs such as Medicaid. Services include anything from STI testing or cervical cancer screening, but, contrary to popular belief, not abortion— a service for which federal funding is prohibited.
Given the prevalent Republican majority in the House and Senate, Planned Parenthood recognizes the threat and is willing to fight.
“We’re in the middle of a moment that is calling for us to take action in a way we have never taken action before, and we’re ready,” said Kelly Robinson, Planned Parenthood’s deputy national organization director, to supporters on Facebook Live. “We won’t back down, we won’t be silenced, and we will not let these politicians attack our health and rights without a fight.”
With the end of the 2016 election, a new republican-run executive and legislative branch is in power and GOP leaders are ready to enact conservative legislation. A top priority for President Trump is defunding Planned Parenthood.
Throughout his campaign trail, Trump made a strong emphasis on his pro-life stance, promising to cut off federal funding to the organization. Recently, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan also announced that Republicans will strip all federal funding to Planned Parenthood as part of the process they are using this year to dismantle Obamacare.
While Obama has vetoed any legislation proposing defunding Planned Parenthood, Trump is more than likely to accept this sort of bill. His vice president, Mike Pence, is also enthusiastically in support of defunding efforts.
For years, Congressional Republicans have attempted to cut off federal funding to Planned Parenthood because the organization provides abortion services. However, now more than ever, the group may meet its end.
“There’s never been a time, ever, when the muscle of the pro-life movement has been so strong,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of Susan B. Anthony’s List (which opposes abortion) and avid Trump supporter, to Time.
This is the first time in eight years where people like Dannenfelser and anti-abortion advocates have hope that their work will pay off.
On the other hand, Planned Parenthood supporters and pro-choice advocates are unwilling to budge despite the circumstances.
“Regardless of what Paul Ryan says and what he does, we are not going away, and we are not going anywhere,” Planned Parenthood’s president Cecile Richards said in a news conference on Capitol Hill. “You can’t completely end a public health care system in America and not think about what the impact will be on the folks who have least access to care.”
Defunding Planned Parenthood will bring about dire consequences to its beneficiaries. While it is true that the organization provides abortion services, they also provide healthcare services, particularly to low income men and women.
Worldwide, 4,665,000 men, women, and children are provided with sexual and reproductive health care and education by Planned Parenthood each year. 1,100,000 of these individuals are served by the Planned Parenthood affiliate centers in the U.S..
Despite what many think, Planned Parenthood works avidly towards preventative measures instead of abortion, with over 216,000 abortions averted each year, according to Planned Parenthood.
Over 90 percent of the care that Planned Parenthood provides is preventive, according to Richards. Each year, she says, the organization provides over 830,000 breast exams, nearly 1 million cervical cancer screenings, half a million HIV tests, and birth control to 2.5 million patients.
With the recent Women’s March movement— the largest in history— Trump faces a strong and plentiful opposition to terminating planned parenthood.
Planned Parenthood’s defunding can be portrayed as a nightmare for millions, or just what many have been waiting for. After many unsuccessful attempts to deplete the health care program, the organization and its beneficiaries finds itself at severe risk.