Women’s Health is World Health

Grace DeKoker, Editor-in-Chief

Women are facing a health crisis across the globe. I’m scared for what the future will mean for not just myself, but for all women: what healthcare will be available, and at what cost.

Under the Trump administration, women’s healthcare is under fire like never before. Social conservatives have been looking to defund and drive financial resources away from women’s healthcare services, Planned Parenthood being one of them. Pro-lifers often fail to see the multitudinous benefits PP has to offer; instead, they solely focus on abortion.

What lacks media coverage is the HPV vaccines, STD testing and treatment, birth control, well-woman exams, cancer screening and prevention, hormone therapy, infertility services and general health care– and yes, safe, legal abortions. These are not services we want to lose. I shouldn’t have to explain why. Not every woman can afford cancer screening, or contraceptives, or hormone treatment, and PP determines charge by a need-based system. In America, PP as a whole is at risk for being defunded, which could leave women with nowhere to turn when they need affordable healthcare, and deprive them from a valuable resource.

If PP loses funding or is forced to shut down, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs): may be expected to fill the gap. FQHCs are federally funded health clinics. These centers may not have the same access to all the programs PP provides; for example, contraceptives, specialty doctors and diagnostic equipment. The currently existing centers would not be able to readily pick up the influx of clients from PP.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, only 60 percent of FQHCs in 2015 reported that they aided 10 or more women in contraceptive care over the course of one year. That means they helped less than one woman per month who sought information about or access to contraceptives. FQHCs can only serve 10 percent of the clientele that PP sees daily, meaning many states would have to double or even triple the number of FQHCs to meet the demand. If the nation had to rely solely on FQHCs, I doubt they could adequately provide the same level of care that PP is currently doing.

Even more alarming is the proposal to eliminate Title X. To put it simply, Title X is the only federal grant program dedicated to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning. Hospitals, health clinics, and PP benefit from the funding that is given to them through Title X, allowing them to help over 3 million women. Without that, centers would close down, and hospitals would lose the funding that allow them to aid women in family planning and other gynecological care. Conservative politicians want to funnel the Title X funds into FQHCs, but again, the country is not ready to make such a shift. Fourteen states would have to double the amount of FQHCs, and 27 would have to triple their current number.

Taking federal funds away from Title X and/or PP is an atrocity of American healthcare. Not only would it throw the country’s health centers into mayhem, but it would leave millions of women unable to access the care they need.