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home : bishop : columns

8/13/2015 9:00:00 AM
BISHOP'S COLUMN
Women do not need Planned Parenthood
BY BISHOP EDWARD B. SCHARFENBERGER


Much of the cachet that Planned Parenthood has cultivated over the years -- including its increasingly tenuous claim to be worthy of the half-billion dollars of taxpayer money doled out to it each year -- has been based on the astounding pretext of its being an essential and indispensable provider of women's health services in the United States.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

In the light of the stunning and still ongoing revelations of trafficking in the bodies of intact unborn infants and their organs, harvested (quite probably illegally) in the second trimester, Planned Parenthood's desperate defense is an appeal to what it proves not to be: a true friend of women.

The heavily-scripted talking points articulated by its leadership are obvious (and ultimately embarrassing) attempts to deflect from the brutal inhumanity so clearly on display even in the nonchalant demeanor of the informants -- mostly high-ranking Planned Parenthood officials.

The chief avoidance tactic, as usual, is to vilify the messenger. What difference does it make by whom or why the message is being transmitted if its content is factually accurate? If Planned Parenthood does, in fact, engage in such human trafficking practices -- and the unborn infant, by whatever other name one might call it, is human, inasmuch as it is precisely its human body and body parts that are valued in the commercial transaction -- then how many such transactions are tolerable? How few are too many?

The disregard for any innocent human life is one too many!

The defense chorus argues that any defunding of Planned Parenthood -- setting aside the incidents of recent notoriety -- would jeopardize the health of women. But what if those funds could be better allocated? Is Planned Parenthood really as indispensable as its apologists claim?

Here are the facts, as Kristen Day, executive director of Democrats for Life of America (DFLA), eloquently pointed out in an essay in America magazine (Aug. 6 issue): Contrary to its self-congratulatory assertions, Planned Parenthood can only be described as the largest healthcare provider for women in the United States if, and only if, one defines "healthcare" services exclusively as abortion.

Here's why: Planned Parenthood, which operates more or less as a franchise ("one size fits all") is not very adaptable to the local needs of women, especially in areas outside major cities. Community Health Centers, by contrast, offer a better model of subsidiarity.

According to the most recent statistics provided by DFLA (see www.democratsforlife.org), fewer than 700 Planned Parenthood facilities are present in the country, with 31 states having 10 or fewer clinics. More than 9,000 Community Health Centers exist, however, in 98 percent of U.S. Congressional Districts. Except for abortions, these Community Health Centers provide all the services Planned Parenthood offers -- and more.

The number of patients (both men and women) served by Planned Parenthood is 2.7 million annually. However, Community Health Centers serve far more: 21 million. Planned Parenthood offers pap tests for cervical cancer screening to 378,692 women each year. Again, Community Health Centers far surpass this number with 1,781,256.

What about mammograms? Contrary to widely-held assumptions, although Planned Parenthood does offer breast examinations and referrals, zero mammograms are available in its clinics. Community Health Centers report 424,376.

So, what women's health services can Planned Parenthood claim to offer that Community Health Centers do not? Only one: abortion -- 327,653 of them. And some of those aborted babies, we are learning, are even for sale.

Women do not need Planned Parenthood. All the birth control services offered by Planned Parenthood are covered under the provisions of the Affordable Care Act -- for those who choose to enroll -- by local, private providers. Community Health Centers also bring these and other services to many who are not within reach of Planned Parenthood.

It has been suggested that abortions are a relatively small percent of the needed services sought from Planned Parenthood. However, the organization has a peculiar way of reporting its services so that other services provided, in conjunction with abortions, do not appear to be associated with them -- thus creating a statistical inflation that suggests those services may not be abortion-related.

Given the subterfuge with which this organization persists in covering up its darker designs, as the recent revelations unveil, and given that its other services to women are even more widely available elsewhere, why does Planned Parenthood even need to exist -- except for the purpose of procuring abortions and, we now learn, marketing the human remains? Or is its abortion tally, effectively, to be the national standard by which we identify -- and reward with taxpayer dollars -- a provider of women's health services?

That does not appear to be where our national consensus lies. Shouldn't our money follow our values?

(Follow the Bishop at www.facebook.com/AlbanyBishopEd and on Twitter @AlbBishopEd.)



Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, August 14, 2015
Article comment by: Vincent. D

Thank you bishop!

Posted: Thursday, August 13, 2015
Article comment by: Vera Schraa

With heartfelt gratitude I thank you for your witness and leadership!
Also, with heartfelt hope I look forward to the USCCB and other bishops all over the country to take a stand for life, boldly speak from the pulpit, send the message home in the weekly bulletin and promote funding to those pro-life organizations that having been doing the heavy lifting for the past 42 years.


Posted: Thursday, August 13, 2015
Article comment by: Marsha Raymond

Thanks, Bishop for standing up for life!!



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