Guest Editorial: Setting the record straight on Planned Parenthood
First, I'd like to thank Mr. Weber for pointing out, in his Nov. 18 column, the good works that Planned Parenthood is known and trusted for. The vast majority of the services that we provide are preventative healthcare services, such as life-saving cancer screenings, testing and treatment for sexually-transmitted infections, and birth control.
Nationally, these services, along with the medically-accurate, non-judgmental health information, education and counseling we provide make up 97 percent of the work that we do.
It's true that the other 3 percent of services we provide, abortion services, get leveraged as a "political lightning rod," as Mr. Weber put it. However, his claim that the number of Americans who oppose safe and legal abortion is increasing is simply wrong.
When Texas passed HB2 in 2013, nearly half of the state's 41 abortion clinics were forced to close. But that didn't stop women from wanting or needing abortion care. Instead, up to 240,000 women have tried to self-induce their own abortions since then.
Mr. Weber also refers to Planned Parenthood as a taxpayer funded service. A majority of our patients pay for their care out of pocket and we accept most major insurance plans. Still, we do have several clinics that accept Title X federal funding for qualifying patients to receive sliding-scale fees for family planning services - not abortion care.
Here in Yavapai County, the Community Health Centers of Yavapai receive Title X funding, which makes it possible for uninsured and under-insured members of our community to receive quality affordable care. For every dollar spent on Title X family planning services in the state of Arizona, taxpayers save $11.27.
A majority of Americans support Planned Parenthood. In fact, a majority of Arizonans (70 percent) support us as well. Access to safe abortion care is a constitutionally protected right and also one of many sexual and reproductive health services that a person should have access to, if and when they and their doctor decide it is necessary.
But there is a very vocal minority, which often relies on devious tactics, that is set on preventing men and women in our communities from accessing the whole spectrum of healthcare services Planned Parenthood provides, simply because of their personal objections to abortion care.
Crisis pregnancy centers, such as the Community Pregnancy Center in Prescott, are not viable alternatives to licensed medical healthcare providers like Planned Parenthood or the Community Health Centers of Yavapai.
The lack of regulation in Arizona and elsewhere allows many crisis pregnancy centers to deceive consumers by representing themselves as healthcare providers. But most of these centers don't provide real healthcare services, and most often they have an agenda.
The Community Pregnancy Center in Prescott is a self-described Christian, "pro-life" ministry, which exists mainly to steer its clients' decision-making with gospel-based advice, not to provide licensed medical care.
Sadly, crisis pregnancy centers across the country have become notorious for routinely deceiving women in real crisis, lying about the physical and mental risks of abortion and using other tactics to dissuade their clients from seeking abortion care.
Last month, to protect California women from receiving deliberate misinformation on reproductive health care, Gov. Jerry Brown signed the Reproductive FACT Act into law. This legislation will require California crisis pregnancy centers to disclose to clients that they are not actual licensed medical facilities.
You cannot receive a birth control prescription at a crisis pregnancy center. You cannot receive medically-accurate information on all pregnancy options - whether to choose adoption, seek abortion services, or parent a child - at a crisis pregnancy center. And our local crisis pregnancy center certainly isn't working with Planned Parenthood to support comprehensive sex education for our youth.
These are the services that truly help to prevent unintended pregnancy, and thus decrease abortion.
If Mr. Weber, the Community Pregnancy Center and their generous supporters would like to join me to increase access to affordable birth control and comprehensive sex education for our community youth, I would be happy for their help.
Until then, myself, Planned Parenthood, and those who stand with us will continue work together to protect access to medically-accurate sexual and reproductive healthcare information, education and services, including safe and legal abortion care. No matter what.
Desiree Perez, at the office of the Regional Health Coordinator for Planned Parenthood Arizona in Northern Arizona, 1555 Iron Springs Road, Suite 1, Prescott and Gerry Garvey, Board Member, Arizona Family Health Partnership. Appointments are encouraged. You can reach Ms. Perez at 928-228-1577 and firstname.lastname@example.org.