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Trump budget targets an irreplaceable health resource for women

REUTERS/Dominick Reuter
It’s important to know that Planned Parenthood isn’t a line item in the federal budget that can be “defunded.”

President Trump released his budget proposal to Congress last week, and it can only be described as an all-out assault on millions of people in this country. Among other things, it seeks to eviscerate programs like SNAP that help low-income people feed their children and programs like Medicaid that ensure people have access to basic health care.

Sarah Stoesz
Sarah Stoesz

It would also “defund” Planned Parenthood by prohibiting us from participating in every Health and Human Services (HHS) program, including Medicaid and Title X. This is in spite of the fact that the Hyde Amendment already says federal dollars cannot be used for abortion services.

The solution, not the problem

This would fulfill a long-time goal of congressional Republicans and one of Trump’s campaign promises, which is to shut Planned Parenthood’s doors. Ironically, the United States is now at a 30-year low for unintended pregnancy, a historic all-time low for teen pregnancy, and the lowest abortion rate since Roe v. Wade. As the oldest and largest provider of reproductive health care in our region, we are very proud of these results. Planned Parenthood is clearly not the problem here. Planned Parenthood is the solution.

It’s also important to know that Planned Parenthood isn’t a line item in the federal budget that can be “defunded.” We are reimbursed for medical services we provide, just like any other health care provider. Our clinics are an irreplaceable resource for women in our communities, providing lifesaving health care to 66,000 patients every year including cancer screenings, birth control, and STD tests. Our physicians and nurses work every day to ensure that women and families are able to access the care they need in a safe and caring environment.

The political threats to Planned Parenthood are very real and will harm hundreds of thousands of people, many who already experience significant barriers to health care. This is cruel, discriminatory, and defies decades of medical and public health expertise. In addition, the idea that other providers could absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients has been resoundingly dismissed by experts. In fact, Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, has called the idea “ludicrous."

Would undo decades of progress

Women have been squarely under attack by this administration from day one, and this budget proposal is no exception. If passed, it would undo decades of progress for women when it comes to their ability to access health care, their economic advancement, and their ability to lead safe, productive lives.

Our elected leaders must reject this budget proposal for so many reasons, including the fact that it would block women from seeing their trusted, irreplaceable health-care provider and accessing lifesaving preventive care. 

Sarah Stoesz is the president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota. 

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