Understanding Planned Parenthood’s Critical Role in the Nation’s Family Planning Safety Net
Planned Parenthood’s critical role in meeting the need for publicly funded contraceptive care cannot be overlooked. This is especially true given that the need for such care is on the rise: In 2014, 20.2 million U.S. women were in need of publicly funded family planning services—an increase of 5%, or one million women, since 2010.7
Unfortunately, it seems likely that antiabortion policymakers will disregard this very real need in their communities and continue their myopic campaign to defund Planned Parenthood in the coming year. Although it is difficult to predict exactly how potential restrictions on Planned Parenthood’s eligibility for various public programs might play out, it is highly doubtful that other providers could step up in a timely way to serve the millions of women suddenly left without their preferred, and sometimes only, source of care. It is also unclear whether other types of safety-net health centers would be able to consistently provide the same degree of accessible, high-quality contraceptive care offered by Planned Parenthood.
What we do know is that women nationwide rely on Planned Parenthood health centers for the contraceptive and related services they need. For many who are low-income or young, who are immigrants or who find themselves uninsured, losing Planned Parenthood means losing a trusted provider, and in some cases, the only source of care they have.