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Difference Between Planned Parenthood and Abortion

Planned Parenthood and Abortion

Within the context of current political and social debates, there is much discussion over the reproductive rights of women-specifically abortion rights and the role of Planned Parenthood. Many of the more heated discussions refer to Planned Parenthood as being synonymous with abortion, but that simply is not the case.

  1. Definition

According to the dictionary definition, an abortion is a medical or biological event. It is the termination of a pregnancy by removing the fetus or embryo before it can survive outside of the uterus. If this happens naturally and spontaneously, it is called a miscarriage, but when termination is purposely sought, it is referred to as an abortion. The reasons for getting an abortion are diverse and vary across cultures. Some factors that contribute to the decision to get an abortion include: a desire to postpone childbearing, wanting to focus on existing children, financial concerns, relationship problems, conception occurred as a result of rape or incest, a desire to conform to societal pressures and avoid stigma, or if the life of the mother or fetus is in jeopardy.[i]

Rather than being a biological event or medical process, Planned Parenthood is actually an organization with many locations across the United States and globally. Within the United States, there are over 650 Planned Parenthood clinics consisting of 159 medical and non-medical affiliates. It also operates in 12 other countries. While Planned Parenthood does provide abortions, this service is actually only offered at slightly more than half of the clinic locations. Aside from abortions, Planned Parenthood provides a spectrum of other health services, including providing birth control, long-acting reversible contraception and emergency contraception, providing clinical breast examinations and cervical cancer screenings, and even conducting pregnancy testing. In addition to these services, Planned Parenthood also provides sex education, counseling about pregnancy options, LGBT services, vasectomies, and testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections.[ii]

  1. History

Abortion has played a major role sociologically and culturally throughout history. The oldest evidence of abortion comes from China around 2700 BCE. In these times, various methods were used to terminate a pregnancy, including the administration of abortifacient herbs, the use of sharpened tools or instruments, applying abdominal pressure, and other techniques. History shows that it has also been controversial throughout history. Christianity declared abortion a homicide in the 16th century and still considers it to be so. Abortion is also heavily restricted in the Islamic faith. Starting in the 17th century, abortion techniques focused on safety and this remained the case until abortions were banned in the 19th century. It was not legalized in many countries until the second half of the twentieth century. Since its legalization, it has remained a controversial issue and has faced legal challenges continuing to this day, primarily from religious organizations.[iii]

Comparatively speaking, Planned Parenthood has a much shorter history than abortion itself. The organization started on October 16, 1916 when Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in the United States, in Brooklyn. At the time, the organization mainly distributed birth control, advice, and information. However, after the founders of Planned Parenthood were arrested, support for the cause of women’s reproductive health grew. In 1921, the clinic became the American Birth Control League and was the only provider of these services in the United States until the 1960s, with over 49,000 individuals being served in 222 locations. In 1942, the name was changed to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America. The organization began to advocate for abortion law reform in the mid-1950s and eventually played a large and vocal role in historic abortion cases such as Roe v Wade and Planned Parenthood v Casey.[iv] Due to its role as the largest abortion provider in the United States, Planned Parenthood is frequently controversial and is often the site of protests.

  1. Funding

A frequent source of confusion for many regarding the relationship between Planned Parenthood and abortions stems from a lack of understanding about how services provided at Planned Parenthood are funded. Since 1970, Planned Parenthood has received federal funding for family planning services through the Family Planning Services and Population Research Act amending the Public Health Service Act that Nixon signed. By law, federal funding cannot be allocated for abortions, except in extremely rare instances. Other funding sources, such as donations from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also prohibit the use of funds for abortion related services. However, other donors, such as the Buffett Foundation do provide for the inclusion of abortions. Opponents of abortion argue that, despite the restriction on federal funds, other funds can be reallocated to provide for abortion. This has resulted in a long history of legal challenges to the funding of Planned Parenthood, with the organization suffering from partial or complete defunding in some states. The Obama administration issued a rule that would have banned states from withholding federal funds from clinics that provide abortions so long as the funds were used for other reproductive health services. This ruling was to go into effect in January 2017, but was blocked by a federal judge one day before.[v]

  1. Activism

There has been much activism both on the pro-life as well as the pro-choice side of the debate. These typically occur at the sites of Planned Parenthood clinics and may involve protestors with both opinions. Sometimes, the activism is much more extreme than protests. Abortion providers are often threatened with death, and facilities are sometimes attacked and vandalized. There have also been shootings, notably in 1994, when one individual was killed and three others were wounded. Also, in 2015, two civilians and a police officer were killed at a Colorado clinic. Clinics have also faced other instances of violence, including bombing, arson, and chemical attacks.[vi]


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1 Comment

  1. With respect, Planned Parenthood’s main activity is abortion. This is simply a fact. They do almost no breast checks, and very few other checks but thousands of abortions every year.

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References :


[0][i] Abortion. (n.d.). On Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion

[1][ii] Planned Parenthood. (n.d.). On Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_Parenthood

[2][iii] Abortion. (n.d.). On Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion

[3][iv] Abortion. (n.d.). On Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abortion

[4][v] Planned Parenthood. (n.d.). On Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_Parenthood

[5][vi] Planned Parenthood. (n.d.). On Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_Parenthood

[6][vi] Planned Parenthood. (n.d.). On Wikipedia. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Planned_Parenthood

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