Contrary to what some may believe, abortion service isn't the only thing Planned Parenthood provides. Though many have cited the health care organization's abortion services as a reason for outrage and even to defund Planned Parenthood, the organization also provides life-saving care to millions of people.
One of those people, an anonymous woman, stood up during a town hall in Tennessee on Tuesday night to tell a powerful story about why Planned Parenthood is so essential, especially for those who are underprivileged. The woman, who attended a town hall in Fairview, Tennessee for Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn, explained that the organization saved her life when she was an uninsured college sophomore.
"I was a college student, I was a sophomore, I was uninsured, my parents were undocumented, I worked tirelessly to pay for my college tuition and I couldn’t go anywhere else," she said. "Community health centers kept turning me away, the health department kept turning me away... I needed my first pap smear at the age of 21. I went in and Planned Parenthood was compassionate, they were nonjudgemental, and they were there for me."
"I had no money in my pocket and they told me I could have a pap smear for free. It came back abnormal," she continued. "I had to get a colposcopy right away."
She also said that she is now a community organizer with Planned Parenthood, and while the organization provides abortion access, those services make up a very small part (about 3%, in fact) of what Planned Parenthood actually does.
"There are abortion clinics that solely provide abortion services, but Planned Parenthood is not one of them," she said. "What do you have to say to the 2.5 million people who go to Planned Parenthood ever year and depend for their life-saving care, and I'm one of those former patients."
Blackburn, who remained staunch in her efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, said that she didn't think Planned Parenthood needed to receive Title X funds, and falsely argued that taxpayer money funds abortion care. (The Hyde Amendment, which the House recently voted to make permanent, bans taxpayer funding for abortion.)
"I stand firmly in my belief that taxpayer funds ought not to be used for abortion," Blackburn said, as the crowd booed, with shouts of "they are not," and "Hyde Amendment" heard over the tussle.
The woman's story shuts down the myth that Planned Parenthood is nothing more than an abortion provider. (Even if it was, defunding it would still cut women off from safely obtaining them, though that's a different story.) Planned Parenthood largely provides family planning and reproductive care services for low-income people who may otherwise not have access to those services, and defunding the organization would be a huge blow to their health care.