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Open Forum: The loss of Planned Parenthood

It was recently published that, due to federal budget cuts to Title X, Planned Parenthood is closing six outstate clinics, including the one in Brainerd. In our small Brainerd clinic alone, Planned Parenthood provides women’s health services (breast exams, cervical cancer screening, Pap tests, routine physicals, etc.), general health care (anemia testing, cholesterol and diabetes screening, pregnancy planning services, etc.), LGBT services, some of the only in the area for this underserved population, men’s health services (testicular and prostate cancer screening, male infertility screening and referrals, etc.) and education around abstinence, birth control, safer sex, STDs, etc. Many people think of Planned Parenthood only as an abortion provider, but the reality is, nationally, only 3 percent of all Planned Parenthood services are abortion services.  Planned Parenthood provides basic health care for our community, and, statistically, taking away these services drives up teen pregnancy and abortion rates rather than decreasing them.

Nationally, 75 percent of Planned Parenthood clients have incomes at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level. With our area unemployment rates being as high as they have been for the past year, many people in our community are unable to afford health insurance. Organizations such as Planned Parenthood provide basic health care to people at affordable, income-based rates, and to lose such a service is a detriment to our community.

Rep. Michele Bachmann has called Planned Parenthood a “heinous organization.” I fail to see how an organization that provides basic health care to those in need could be considered heinous. Rep. Bachmann and others like her need to recognize that their actions are hurting the very people they represent. Cutting funding to Title X, and ultimately to organizations such as Planned Parenthood, only leads to greater strains on our already over-burdened health care and welfare systems.

Amy Gray Ellingson