Reproductive Health Group Fights Continued Funding Battles
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Planned Parenthood has survived the latest congressional attempts to strip its funding, but its battles are hardly over. The provider of reproductive-health services is taking on multiple states bent on blocking it from receiving federal family-planning dollars or state contracting services.
Taylor Ewing Johnstone, Planned Parenthood of Kentucky's director of education and community affairs, says the group is still working to separate fact from fiction in the abortion debate. Nationwide, Johnstone says, 97 percent of Planned Parenthood's health services to women and men have nothing to do with abortion.
"The vast majority of what we do is to just try and provide services so that people can have good reproductive health. A huge part of what we do is trying to prevent unplanned pregnancy and, therefore, the need for abortion."
Kentucky's Planned Parenthood clinics don't perform abortions, Johnstone says, and Planned Parenthood officials say federal law already bans government funding for abortions. In neighboring Indiana, the group is challenging a new law that bars the state from contracting with family-planning agencies if they provide abortions. The federal government has said the Indiana law violates Medicaid rules.
Planned Parenthood of Kentucky operates clinics in Louisville, Lexington and at the student health center at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond. Those clinics saw nearly 10,000 visits last year - for birth control, breast exams, and tests for cervical cancer and sexually-transmitted infections, Johnstone says.
"There aren't any systems in place to provide the quality, affordable services that Planned Parenthood provides women. Without Planned Parenthood, people aren't going to be able to access the reproductive health and family-planning services that they need - for their health, their safety, for their families."
Last year, she says, the Kentucky centers served more than 3,000 people with incomes far below the federal poverty level.