Planned Parenthood is once again under attack but this time from someone that was once a strong ally. The Susan G. Komen Foundation announced that they would cease all financial support of Planned Parenthood because the organization is under congressional investigation. Critics say that the Komen is succumbing to political pressure because Planned Parenthood has been scrutinized lately for providing abortions. The Komen Foundation vehemently denies this by saying in a released statement “We are dismayed and extremely disappointed that actions we have taken to strengthen our granting process have been widely mischaracterized.” Their decision to pull funding from Planned Parenthood not only hampers breast cancer prevention but it also cuts into HIV and STD screenings and prevention as well.
One of the key recommendations from the National HIV/AIDS Strategy is to increase the number and diversity of available clinical-care providers and related services. The reason for that goal is to increase access to care which includes getting regular screenings for STDs. Early detection and access to treatment has been proven to be a strong component in decreasing new HIV infections. Women from low-income backgrounds are at a higher risk of contracting HIV for a number of reasons including of lack of access to care. Planned Parenthood provides health check ups, mammograms, pap smears and more than four million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections per year. Chances are a majority of those tests were for women without private insurance or Medicaid. If they lose funding of this magnitude ($7.5 million donated in 2009 alone), it will most assuredly interrupt critical services that are being provided to an already tragically underserved population.
Among women patients below the federal poverty level, seven in ten consider a women’s community health provider, like Planned Parenthood, as their primary source of health care. It’s a safety net. It’s a backup for a broken healthcare system that puts women’s health way behind politics and greed. Planned Parenthood is a provider of not just medical care but also education, outreach, and advocacy for reproductive rights. They are so much more than the 3 percent of their budget alloted for abortions every year. And in the fight against HIV/AIDS, having a trusted Planned Parenthood clinic nearby can be the difference between life and death.
Visit me at TheBody.com.
Do you like reading local HIV/AIDS news? Click subscribe at the top of this page to receive email alerts when more stories are published in this column.