Chronicle Editorial

Planned Parenthood logistics

     Among the list of issues on the agenda for the Iowa Legislature is what to do about Planned Parenthood. It is a general view among legislative majority that there should be no public funding of Planned Parenthood facilities that provide abortions.  

     As members of the press, it is the job of news outlets to be responsible in delivering facts in an unbiased manner, without inflection, so as to give the public the best possible information in context with the times we live in.

     To cite the Waterloo Courier, more than 40 percent of revenue at Planned Parenthood comes in the form of government grants and contracts. It is important to note that Planned Parenthood is a non-profit entity, which generates funding based on reimbursements from Medicaid.

     According to the Planned Parenthood website, patients who are covered under Medicaid use the services of the facility. The facility then bills Medicaid who refunds a portion of the cost of the service. The federal government then reimburses Medicaid for the expense. As per federal law, as also cited in the Courier, no public dollars can go to funding abortions.

     The federal government does not have an item on their budget denoting “Planned Parenthood,” rather, an item for Medicaid expenses. In the conversation of “defunding” planned parenthood, it can some times be confusing, due to this technical point: the government does not fund planned parenthood, it reimburses Medicaid for the services the facilities provide.

     According to the Courier article, the 2015 fiscal year report for the Planned Parenthood of the Heartland (made up of Iowa, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Arkansas), 48,000 patients visited the facilities. Of these patient visits, 50 percent were pertaining to contraception, approximately 33 percent pertained to treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and 2.5 percent pertained to abortion.

     It is also important to note that technically, “defunding” Planned Parenthood cannot be done, and putting a moratorium on Medicaid claims to Planned Parenthood would merely limit those who visit the facilities, who are not seeking an abortion. Funds for abortions come through private donations or external funding that Planned Parenthood does not get from the government, or from specific grants.

     With that information in mind, one can still argue that these facilities should be closed to stop abortions entirely, but in the wake of losing them, only 51 facilities would remain in Iowa for those citizens to use. Experts warn that such a rush of patients would create long lines and lack of coverage, especially to rural communities, who rely on Planned Parenthood facilities for care.

     A top problem with health care in the country is the long wait times to seek care. It seems that with special facilities that take public insurance, more patients can be seen for the care they need, such as cancer screening, gynecological visits and contraceptive needs, all of which are covered by insurance. If normal doctors provide this type of care anyway, wouldn’t it make sense to keep option open for people to use?

     Leaving out the question of abortion, it is important to consider what cuts to funding will actually do. Many women need birth control to regulate hormones in the body, which without proper balance, could cause harm and even inhibit child rearing. No to mention provided cancer screenings that save lives, and Planned Parenthood appears to provide services where they’re needed most, especially in rural America. If Planned Parenthood is to be “defunded,” then legislators should also expand coverage areas so that there are shorter wait times to accommodate the influx of patients so that care goes undisturbed.

     If the issue is abortion, than the logical issue should be to introduce legislation that is aimed at controlling private donations that could go towards that service.