Why Cuts to Planned Parenthood Will Hurt Low Income Women

Amidst discussion of Planned Parenthood—potential cuts, a government shutdown, and controversial videos—it's important to consider that cuts to Planned Parenthood would adversely impact low-income families.

Recently the Republican-led House of Representatives voted to slash half a billion federal dollars from Planned Parenthood, a well-known organization and resource for people seeking reproductive care, education and abortion services. There are also threats to shut down the government over funding for Planned Parenthood (which may have contributed to the fact that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) will be resigning at the end of October.)

How would cuts impact low-income families?

Decreased access to sexual education, contraceptive resources and abortion services negatively affect lower-income families the most. A lack of options also further entrenches inequality into American society, because low-income or rural families already have fewer options to choose from.

It is widely documented that unintended childbirth is associated with an increased level of poverty, a lack of familial stability, and lower quality of life for children. Unintended pregnancy also disproportionately affects women of color. According to the Brookings Institution, a low-income female is at least five times as likely as her affluent counterpart to have an unintended birth.

This is particularly problematic in more conservative states in the center of the country, says Laura McQuaide, the President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.

“The very conservative nature of the political landscape in the center of the country where we’re located creates a desire to pass many more abortion restrictions than in places like New York and California,” McQuaide says. “So we have more abortion restrictions, and because of that there are more hurdles for all women—that impact is always harder on low-income women.”

“It may be [that] the only visit a low-income woman has with a doctor every year is with her Planned Parenthood provider,” McQuaide continued.

Providing funding to Planned Parenthood can help eliminate instances of unplanned pregnancy by educating and counseling the women who need it the most. The more that gap is eliminated, the greater the ability for the next generation to seize equality and opportunity.

How much money is involved?

The funding freeze was suggested amidst accusations that top Planned Parenthood officials were engaged in the illegal sale of aborted fetus tissue for medical research.

President Obama asserted he intends to veto bills related to defunding Planned Parenthood if they end up on his desk. Still, the highly-debated legislation sets a foreboding tone for women’s reproductive rights as the 2016 election rolls around.

Last year, Planned Parenthood received $528 million in government funding, but minimal amounts go to abortion services because the Hyde Amendment, passed in 1976 by Congress, asserts that abortion is not covered under Medicaid.

Medicaid is a joint federal and state healthcare program provided to low-income people who qualify for it. Some states have altered versions of the law, known as wrap-around funding, that may offer funding for abortion services.