1Maddy IrwinProfessor Stein-RoggenbuckMC 38016 November, 2018 Policy Paper: Planned ParenthoodPlanned Parenthood has been a reputable provider of women’s health care for over 100 years, and has been a topic of contentious debate for much longer. The organization has providedthousands of women with access to family planning, primary care, and cancer screenings. Though these services are essential to the health and safety of many women who lack alternative services, the continued funding of Planned Parenthood has become an uncertainty in recent yearsdue to the opposition of conservative think tanks, legislators, and other government officials. Changing state policies regarding the accessibility of Planned Parenthood services through Medicare and Medicaid threaten the viability of the organization in certain areas, and federal statutes bar some of Planned Parenthood’s key services — potentially putting women at risk for unplanned pregnancy or worse as they are forced to turn to other healthcare providers. In a country where health policy is complex and equal access to women’s health care is a challenge for many, defunding and delegitimizing Planned Parenthood is an issue that should be taken seriously.Planned Parenthood BasicsThe organization was founded in 1916 by Margaret Sanger as “The Birth Control League,” originally intended to increase access to family planning methods for lower-class and immigrant women as topics such as infant mortality, child labor, and the conditions of working
2women increasingly became important political topics (Primrose, 168). Sanger’s intentions for creating The Birth Control League are now sometimes characterized as racist — she was a supporter of the eugenics movement that advocated for birth control assisting in "the process of weeding out the unfit [and] of preventing the birth of defectives” (Kelly). Certainly, the eugenics movement of the 1920s was radical, problematic, and offensive, and Sanger’s involvement in thecampaign was as well. However, the introduction of birth control to segments of the population who could largely benefit from family planning was a big step; giving women a choice to partakein “‘voluntary motherhood’” (Primrose, 171). Sanger’s motivations also stemmed from the fact that before the introduction of birth control to the wider population, “it was estimated that one out of every five to six pregnancies in the United States was purposely ended” often by unsafe and unrecorded abortions (Primrose, 169). Comstock Laws at the time criminalized the dissemination of any information about birth control because it was considered “obscene,” so many lower-class and immigrant women either had more children than they could afford, or engaged in unsafe and illegal abortion practices. Sanger’s organization broke down barriers, and in the last century, the League (now known as Planned Parenthood) has evolved into a key provider of women’s health care all around the country and the world.