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Stanford University School of Medicine

Reflecting on the importance of Planned Parenthood

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As Congress considers the GOP’s American Health Care Act, there are likely many people out there who don’t know that the proposed legislation calls for the defunding of Planned Parenthood.

I asked Meena Chelvakumar, MD, a family medicine physician and a VA Health Services Research and Development Fellow here at Stanford Health Policy, to weigh in on what the national health-care organization means to women, and to those physicians who focus on women’s health care. She writes in this Medium blog post that Planned Parenthood is “the most prominent safety-net provider of women’s reproductive and sexual health services in the country" and explains:

The argument for blocking federal funds for this organization from those who back the AHCA primarily focuses on the organization’s potential interchangeability of federal funding with non-federal funding for abortion services... Only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s operations are devoted to abortion; the remaining services include screenings for various cancers and STDs, family planning and contraception for women and men, and reproductive health research and education.


Though Planned Parenthood centers only make up 10 percent of publicly supported safety-net family planning centers, they serve 36 percent of the patients who receive publicly-supported contraceptives from these facilities. Additionally in 21 percent of the counties where a Planned Parenthood is present, it is the sole provider of contraceptive services for low-income women. In 68 percent of counties, Planned Parenthood provides contraception for at least half of these women.

Chelvakumar concludes that "low-income, marginalized women and families would suffer the most" if Planned Parenthood services were not available.

Previously: The current state of women’s health in the United States? Uncertain
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