I've often been a critic of Planned Parenthood, because I believe that despite its arguments to the contrary, the organization is primarily a political tool for the abortion industry. Those who support Planned Parenthood are quick with the statistics about how they provide counseling, general checkups and health care, mammogram referrals and other female-centric health services.
Supporters say that abortion is just a small percentage of the services Planned Parenthood provides. I never believed that, but many people do.
But the firing of Leana Wen last week, the first physician to head the organization in 50 years, is a sure sign that the organization defines women's health as access to abortion, and all the rest is secondary. Firing a physician whose goal was to advance health care for women (which, yes, probably includes abortion) is indicative of an extreme mind-set that sees access to abortion as more important than cancer detection, avoidance of sexually transmitted diseases, services to expectant mothers, and all the other unique and specific services that are designed to improve and protect women's health.
I'm glad that Planned Parenthood made this move, because it underscores something I have always known: that the organization doesn't actually focus on women's health.
This reminds me of recent events in Philadelphia when state Rep. Brian Sims gave the pro-life movement a jolt of energy when he posted videos of himself harassing a woman praying the rosary and two teenage girls in front of the Planned Parenthood on Locust Street. The video went viral, emboldening hundreds of pro-life supporters to take to the streets to rally against Sims' comments.
Just like Sims' comments gave the pro-choice movement a black eye, the same is true when it comes for the firing of Dr. Wen. It is moves like this that advance the cause of those who want to defund Planned Parenthood. In turning its back on a more holistic view of health and focusing in a single-minded way on access to abortion, the organization has shown itself to be nothing more than a political lobbying group that does not deserve federal funds.
It will be hard, going forward, for the organization to pretend it is anything more than an advocacy group for abortion rights. And that's OK, since there have always been groups that lobby for one particular cause, to the exclusion of all others. The National Rifle Association never pretended to advocate for criminal justice reform. The American Bar Association never pretended to defend the rights of doctors sued for malpractice. And groups like NARAL Pro Choice America have always, and only, been about protecting access to abortion.
So Planned Parenthood should just give up the charade about women's health, and declare itself to be what it always has been: a federally funded lobbyist for abortion.
The truth shall set them free ... from our federal dollars.
Copyright 2019 Christine Flowers. Flowers is an attorney and a columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and can be reached at [email protected]