Bad for the budget and bad for women

On March 10 Christine Charbonneau of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest had an opinion piece published on HeraldNet extolling the public health and economic benefits of family planning. She asks the Legislature to preserve family planning in our state budget. We should not take her advice and should instead defund Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood is the largest recipient of family planning dollars in our state so it’s no surprise that she neglected to tell readers the true economic costs of these programs and the toll they are taking on women’s health.

A true accounting of family planning programs would include the cost of treating the many health problems that come with contraceptive use. It would include the cost of treating the side effects of contraceptive use: blood clots and increased risk of cardiovascular disease for certain groups of women. It would also include the cost to treat sexually transmitted diseases when our fellow citizens are taught to believe that “safe sex” means using contraceptives, which don’t protect against STDs.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified combined oral contraceptives as a Group 1 carcinogen; meaning combined oral contraceptives are cancer causing in humans. How many millions of dollars will be spent in this state alone to treat the various cancers, including breast and cervical cancers that have been linked to the use of oral contraceptives.

Family Planning also means abortion. A true accounting of the costs of family planning would include the negative social and health fallout from abortion. Janet Daling, a pro-choice researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, found an overall 50 percent increased breast cancer risk among women who reported having had an abortion. How many millions of dollars will be spent fighting breast cancer this year due to abortion and contraceptive use?

I have personally spoken to many women who suffered from drug and alcohol abuse after their abortion. How much will be spent on drug and alcohol treatment programs this year? Other women report infertility, depression, pre-mature birth, and suicide attempts after an abortion. How much will be spent treating those complications?

Ms. Charbonneau makes the argument that it’s cheaper to pay for a woman’s contraceptives than the birth of her child. But when contraceptives fail who picks up the tab? According to the Guttmacher Institute 54 percent of all abortions are due to contraceptive failure and we have the bills to prove it. As of 2007, about half of all abortions performed in the state are paid for by our tax dollars; about $8 million. Spending on Medicaid births in Washington has gone up every year since 1988 except one. In 2007 the cost was $309,147,609.

An honest and objective look at family planning would also count the environmental cost of contraceptives. Estrogen, the active ingredient most oral contraceptives, is finding its way into lakes, rivers and streams through sewer systems and is said to be responsible for “intersex” fish, male bass laying eggs, and male fish developing female sex organs. The cost to clean up all the estrogen in our waterways is sure to be in the billions. How much is this costing our fishing industry and aquaculture in lost revenue?

In 2007 Olympia gave all the Planned Parenthood affiliates in Washington a combined $23 million. Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest has $36 million in the bank, annual revenues of $32 million and a record number of clinics. In addition, they are reporting $9 million in annual profit off the sales of birth control alone.

Their funding should at the very least be suspended until an investigation has been done into why they have been growing their abortion business at 11 percent a year, 50 percent in the last three years. Not only is it time to stop funding all of Planned Parenthood’s family planning programs, it’s time for a true accounting of their cost to the state and the health of women in Washington.

Mary Emanuel is the Washington Regional Coordinator for the Silent No More Awareness Campaign.

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