What This Woman Asked Her Representative About Planned Parenthood Deserves Your Attention

February 10th 2017

Lucy Tiven

A brave woman confronted Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, at a Thursday town hall about defunding Planned Parenthood, and her impassioned question to him went viral and underscored the importance of Planned Parenthood beyond the debate over abortion services.

"Why are you trying to take [it] away?"

The uninsured single mother told Chaffetz about the importance of the preventative health care services provided by Planned Parenthood, which include her her yearly cancer screenings.

chaffetz women

Her words were captured on video and tweeted out by Politico reporter Dan Diamond.

"When I was in my 20s, I received an abnormal return for a routine pap smear," the woman said.

"And because of this, and because of my family's history with cancer, I was advised it was imperative for me to continue to receive those yearly screenings," she said.

"Suddenly and unexpectedly I found myself single with three small children, working two jobs to put myself through college and with no health insurance," she said. "Now I was actually able to continue to receive those vital yearly screenings because of my town's Planned Parenthood."


"These helped ensure that my children were able to grow up with a mother," she said. "So, sir, can you please tell me, explain to me, why you are trying to take that vital health provider away from women like me?"

Republican calls to defund Planned Parenthood typically center around abortion.

Yet abortions made up only 3 percent of the services Planned Parenthood provided in 2013, according to Politifact.

planned parenthood

The other 97 percent included contraception, cancer screenings, STI/STD testing and treatment, prenatal services, and other forms of care.

The woman was particularly concerned because of recent reports that health clinics won't be able to fill the gap left by defunding Planned Parenthood.

"It is simply unrealistic to expect other providers to readily step up and restore the gravely diminished capacity of the family planning safety net were Planned Parenthood defunded," the Guttmacher Institute reported in January.

Planned Parenthood health centers are able to serve higher volumes of contraceptive clients than other providers, the report found. They are also are more likely to offer same day appointments and have hours that can accommodate women with restrictive work schedules:

"In 332 of the 491 counties that Planned Parenthood health centers served in 2010, Planned Parenthood served at least half of the women obtaining publicly supported contraceptive services from a safety-net health center. In 103 of these counties, Planned Parenthood sites served all of these clients. Nearly one-third of all women in need of publicly funded contraceptive services lived in the 332 counties where Planned Parenthood served all or most safety-net family planning clients."

Federal law mandates community health centers be located in communities that lack many health care providers, so there aren't enough to compensate for the loss of Planned Parenthood, George Washington University health policy professor Sara Rosenbaum wrote in a 2015 Health Affairs blog post.

In a 2015 GWU survey, 40 percent of 2,000 women who obtained family planning services at community health clinics also went to other providers.

Planned Parenthood is particularly vital for low-income women, young women, immigrants, and those who lack health insurance.

Seventy-five percent of patients served by Planned Parenthood live at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level, the organization reported in December.

"For the millions of poor women who depend on Planned Parenthood clinics, [losing federal funding] would mean the loss of affordable and accessible contraceptive services and counseling, as well as breast and cervical cancer screenings and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections," Rosenbaum wrote. "The assertion that community health centers could step into a breach of this magnitude is simply wrong and displays a fundamental misunderstanding of how the health care system works."