On September 24, 2015, The Southern Illinoisan editorial board issued an opinion article entitled “Voice of the Southern: Bost, Shimkus vote for a shutdown” that chastised two Congressmen’s vote to defund Planned Parenthood. A number of statements made by the board are in great need of clarity.
First, the editorial board rebuked the Congressmen for voting to reroute funding from Planned Parenthood to alternative women’s healthcare facilities. The board did not want a government shutdown. However, the vote the article references was not tied to legislation to continue funding the government for next year.
Nevertheless, this article seems less about a government shutdown and more about a rather dramatic endorsement of Planned Parenthood by this editorial board. The board states Planned Parenthood provides “modern professional medical care,” and that the Congressmen voted to “dismantle the nation’s largest provider of sexual and reproductive health care.”
But do their facts line up?
There are about 63 million women of reproductive age (15-44) in the United States, according to the Guttmacher Institute. Planned Parenthood’s national website states it serves 2.7 million people annually. That’s 4.3% of women.
But what about Illinois? The Guttmacher Institute states there are over 2.6 million Illinois women of child-bearing age. Illinois Planned Parenthood’s website states they serve 60,000 women per year. That’s 2.3% of Illinois women.
So where do the other 97% of women receive healthcare services?
There are 670 community healthcare clinics in Illinois that serve as alternatives to Planned Parenthood’s 17 facilities. According to the Mayo Clinic, the top causes of death for women are heart disease, stroke, and cancer. The 670 clinics provide comprehensive reproductive services as well as preventative care and treatment that Planned Parenthood does not such as mammograms, immunizations, heart screenings, and osteoporosis and diabetes care.
For those women who do frequent Illinois Planned Parenthood, it is important they know the quality of care they are receiving.
No Illinois Planned Parenthood is licensed by the state according to the Illinois Department of Public Health. No Illinois Planned Parenthood facility – that inserts surgical tools inside a woman’s body – has received a health and safety inspection in 16 years.
This is the same Planned Parenthood that adamantly opposes giving medical care for infants born alive during abortions, opposes all parental involvement laws, and supports partial-birth abortion. Most recently, Planned Parenthood aggressively opposed legislation that would make it illegal to dismember and kill 20-week-old fully developed unborn kids whose hearts are beating, legs are kicking, and can feel pain.
The decision to defund Planned Parenthood is about who we are as American people. Do we as a nation agree to support an organization that dismembers, dissects, and distributes unborn children’s body parts because they serve 4.3% of women?
Congressmen Bost and Congressman Shimkus’ votes to defund Planned Parenthood placed the character of our nation above their political careers. And for that, I admirably thank them.[This response was originally published in The Southern Illinoisan on Sunday, September 27th. We thank them for publishing our response. You can view it here.]