A doctor recently wrote a letter to an Omaha newspaper, critical of the Legislature’s decision to pass a State budget which does not fund Planned Parenthood. I have gone through his short letter with corrections and clarifications in order to show just how misguided the letter is. Hopefully this will help people understand that Planned Parenthood and the taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood is not the answer to the problems in our culture. I have quoted the doctor’s comments verbatim. My responses are in bold type.

“When people lose access to basic preventive care, unintended pregnancy rates and maternal mortality rise, and community health outcomes are devastated because of delayed diagnosis for diseases like cervical and breast cancer.”

If anyone has lost access to basic preventative care, this is true. However, people have not lost access to basic preventative care in Nebraska.

“As a member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a board certified OB-GYN, I can assure you that Title X, the nation’s family planning program, is not a political issue.”

First, regardless of the program, the nation is not so much as planning its families as destroying them. In 1970, 85% of American children lived in the same home as their parents.[1] In 1980, 77% of children lived in the same home as their parents. By 2016, the number had dropped to 65%.[2] Only 34% of African American children currently live with both of their biological parents. During this time, our national birth rate has hit record lows.[3]  If our nation has a family planning program, it is a program which separates families.

“It is a public health matter that will affect 28,000 Nebraskans, many of whom live in rural communities.”

The Omaha metro area makes up around 50% of the population of Nebraska. If you include Lincoln and the other cities and towns in Eastern Nebraska, the bulk of the population and therefore, the bulk of potential Title X recipients live in or near communities with multiple health providers. But even in the more rural areas of the state, services are available. To lead people to believe otherwise is harmful to public health. I have attached a spreadsheet which sets forth the various providers across the state. It is also important to remember that the only cities with Planned Parenthood clinics are Lincoln and Omaha. Therefore, the rural population is either receiving their care in the rural communities already, or they are traveling to Lincoln or Omaha already anyway.

“Our patients’ rights to choose the provider they trust is the most crucial component of their ability to see preventive health care.”

I disagree. The availability of the services is the most crucial component of a person’s ability to receive preventive health care. The individual choices the patient makes is 100% up to them. It sounds like some patients are choosing to go to Planned Parenthood or to go nowhere at all. Why would this be? Possibly due to misinformation? Possibly due to the fact that Planned Parenthood has an intricate marketing plan and specifically calls medical providers, reporters and others and asks them to advocate for Planned Parenthood?[4] Pro-Life health clinics are overwhelmingly small local efforts with small budgets that rely totally on private charitable donations. How can small clinics compete with an international organization?

The fact is, services such as STD testing are already available, free of charge, at many or most women’s health clinics and pregnancy resource centers in Nebraska. The fact is, Planned Parenthood does not have a mammogram imaging device in any of their clinics and mammograms are the only industry approved method of definitive screening for breast cancer. Most of the breast cancer screening performed by Planned Parenthood is simply instruction on how to conduct self-exams at home.[5] All Nebraska women’s health clinics can do this and most already do. Most of Nebraska’s pro-life clinics do not screen for cervical cancer. However all of them refer their patients to providers who perform breast cancer and cervical cancer screening. These referrals charge on a sliding scale, meaning that the cost is based on the woman’s ability to pay. If the patient is unable to pay, then it is free.

“Last year, a similar family planning “defunding” measure in Iowa led Planned Parenthood to close its doors in four communities.”

The four Iowa clinics closed in July or August, 2017.

Data show that since those clinic closures, services have dropped by 30 percent, STD rates are on the rise, and women are delaying diagnosis for diseases like breast cancer, a highly treatable disease when detected early.

Data based on less than a 12-month span of time is incredibly unreliable. This also overlooks the fact that STD rates have been on the rise in Iowa for many years.[6] Record STD levels in 2016 cannot be related to the closing of Planned Parenthood clinics in 2017. It sounds like more of a cultural problem than a lack of access to health care. It also begs the question: How are STD rates on the rise if there is a problem finding testing and treatment?  

If women are delaying treatment for disease and cancer treatment, that is more of an issue with their personal choice and the possible lack of information regarding the services available. Are the women protesting the defunding of Planned Parenthood by jeopardizing their own personal health? Instead of complaining about a different distribution of Title X funds, we should be making certain that women know where they can receive the services they need, which is a good reason to be familiar with the attached spreadsheet.

“Family planning providers in Iowa have indicated that many patients are forgoing care altogether because their preferred doctor is no longer available.”

This is another indication that, if this is true, these women are either unaware of the availability of services, or they are placing their political views ahead of their health.

“Any discussion conflating Title X and abortion is misleading, politically motivated and a distraction created by the Ricketts/Foley administration.”

The state’s budget has restricted taxpayer funding for abortion services in various ways for years. Regardless of the motivation, every Nebraskan should be focusing on how to make sure women know where they can receive their health care. This is why the attached spreadsheet is so important. The services are available and clinics who have not benefited from the Title X funds in the past will now be receiving them, making them able to provide some of these services for the first time. In fact, the reason that many of the Pro-Life clinics could not provide cancer screenings, is due to lack of funds. With Title X, this problem may be solved for some of them.

“Take it from someone who has worked in health care for several decades — not a single Title X patient is utilizing the program for an abortion.”

The patients certainly were not. Nobody has ever claimed the patients have done anything wrong. However, Planned Parenthood has used the money to support their abortion business, and would have continued to do so if the funding would have kept coming. Without Title X funding, abortion providers have to stretch all of their income more efficiently. They can still provide the services they feel are most important. Looking at their clinic closures nationwide over the past several years, we can see what is important to Planned Parenthood. They do not close clinics which are abortion facilities until it is their last call. They close their referral clinics first and it is the referral clinics which provide the minor services such as breast exam instruction, referrals for cervical cancer screenings and other services unrelated to abortions.  

I mean no disrespect to the doctor who wrote the opinion published by the Omaha paper. There is no doubt he truly believes that Planned Parenthood is a good and valuable organization. However, in looking at the facts, it is evident that his belief is based on a lot of misinformation.

I thank Governor Rickets, Lieutenant Governor Foley and all the State Senators who voted to defund Planned Parenthood. May our Pro-Life clinics be well-funded, well-staffed and well-utilized from here on out.  

[1] https://www.ojjdp.gov/ojstatbb/population/qa01201.asp?qaDate=2016

[2] https://www.childstats.gov/americaschildren/family1.asp

[3] http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-us-birth-rate-20170630-htmlstory.html

[4] https://www.plannedparenthood.org/files/4013/9896/1635/Planning_for_our_Future_PPAU.pdf

[5] https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/10/02/the-repeated-misleading-claim-that-planned-parenthood-provides-mammograms/?utm_term=.d677e2901b4f

[6] http://www.thehawkeye.com/news/20171004/stds-are-on-rise-in-iowa