Articulating the views of any party on Planned Parenthood poses a particularly onerous challenge. As with most party views, there are core similarities that are common, but this unique topic can also prove particularly difficult and divisive for many, regardless of party affiliation. The primary reason for this is that one of the services Planned Parenthood provides is abortion, and while this accounts for only a small percentage (cited at 3%) of their scope of services, that alone makes it a challenging topic. Given the divisive nature of the topic for many citizens and voting blocks, Planned Parenthood is at times treated as a political third rail – and at other times, a political target. Still, it is true that in general terms the Democratic Party’s ideology is one that favors a pro-choice line. However, while some conservatives will claim this is a view that promotes abortion, many (and perhaps most) Democrats would respond that it is a view intended to allow for difficult choices that the government (and businesses, as well) cannot rightly dictate. Regardless – while the topic of abortion merits discussion, the perspective should be retained that the vast majority of Planned Parenthood’s provided services are different, and instead focus on healthcare such as: sexual education, birth control, prenatal care, sexually transmitted disease (STD) screening and treatment, pap smears, breast exams, pregnancy tests, and various medical research. Abortion can be divisive topic, certainly – but the larger context of crucial services provided to many Americans seems important to commit to memory as we proceed.
The Democratic National Committee’s website states, “Democrats are committed to protecting and advancing reproductive health, rights, and justice. We believe unequivocally, like the majority of Americans, that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion—regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured. We believe that reproductive health is core to women’s, men’s, and young people’s health and wellbeing. We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide critical health services to millions of people. We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment. We condemn and will combat any acts of violence, harassment, and intimidation of reproductive health providers, patients, and staff. We will defend the ACA, which extends affordable preventive health care to women, including no-cost contraception, and prohibits discrimination in health care based on gender.”
Safe Access to a Variety of Services
Before proceeding to explore two notable individuals who, for many, represent the liberal cause poignantly in Washington – let’s consider the DNC’s articulation of views. It seems noteworthy that the DNC stresses the desire to protect safe and legal access to abortion, largely because this points clearly to the reality that such services would continue even in the face of a legal ban. Such ‘back alley’ variants would be far less safe and humane, and – as the DNC continues on to articulate – the healthcare services provided by Planned Parenthood run a far wider scope. The closing point of prohibiting discrimination based on one’s gender seems especially central to understanding the values that guide such beliefs: the equality of all citizens and the inherent right of said citizens to self-determination with regards to healthcare. The freedom of the individual from government oppression or interference in healthcare decisions seems a valiant cause to champion, and DNC support for Planned Parenthood (within that context) seems quite logical. Still – let’s proceed by considering the views of two notable liberal politicians for more direct insights.
Bernie Sanders on Planned Parenthood
With Hillary Clinton not actively holding political office, let’s instead begin by taking a look at her 2016 rival from the primaries: Senator Bernie Sanders. While Sanders has returned to an Independent status, forgoing his standing as a Democrat during the 2016 Presidential season, his Senate website affirms his commitment similar ideals to those of the DNC in keeping government and business interests from infringing on a woman’s right to make her own decisions regarding healthcare. “Sen. Sanders strongly believes a woman’s healthcare decisions should be between a woman and her doctor, not a woman and her employer. Birth control, like any other routine preventive medication, should be covered by insurance and coverage should not be dictated by an employer’s personal or religious beliefs.” During an interview on CNN in 2016, Senator Sanders openly expounded on his direct support for Planned Parenthood: “In every speech that I give what I say is not only do we stop the Republican efforts to try to defund Planned Parenthood – we should expand funding for Planned Parenthood.” Clearly, then, Sanders stands behind a woman’s right to her own healthcare decisions and the recognition of the crucial services Planned Parenthood provides. Furthermore, this view is grounded in the desire to protect the rights of the individual – both from the attack of government intrusion and business interests acting against those rights.
Elizabeth Warren on Planned Parenthood
To look at a notable Democrat (compared to Sanders’ technical Independent status) – let’s consider Senator Elizabeth Warren. Warren has echoed the views of the DNC, stressing a commitment to the rights of women to self-autonomy with regards to healthcare decisions. To draw on that, I’d start by looking at a quote from her time in office in 2015: “…I simply cannot believe that in the year 2015 the United States Senate would be spending its time trying to defund women’s healthcare centers. You know – on second thought? Maybe I shouldn’t be that surprised. The Republicans have had a plan for years to strip away women’s rights to make choices over our own bodies.” She continued on to articulate a point liberals frequently must remind their conservative brethren of: that federal funding for Planned Parenthood does not fund abortions, and that abortions (again) make up only a tiny fraction of the work Planned Parenthood does. “A vote today to defund Planned Parenthood is not a vote to defund abortions. It’s a vote to defund cancer screenings, and birth control, and basic healthcare for millions of women. …I stand with Planned Parenthood, and I hope my colleagues will do the same.” Given that many see Warren as a prominent Democratic contender in the distant 2020 Presidential elections, her eloquent articulation of heartfelt views seems worth committing to memory. They also seem reflective of the party line, to many.
If a standard Democratic view on Planned Parenthood is to be articulated, it would have to be one of support for their services and, in conjunction, a recognition of the rights of women to their own healthcare decisions – apart from the interference of government or business interests. That said? Generalities are never universally true, and given the divisiveness caused by the topic of abortion within both parties? It seems difficult to ascribe such views to all Democrats. Still – the overarching trend would have to be one of favoring strong support for Planned Parenthood, given the overwhelming consensus.
- Planned Parenthood: Fast Facts and Revealing Numbers – CNN
- Our Platform – Democrats.org
- Women’s Rights – Bernie Sanders U.S. Senator for Vermont
- Republican Views on Planned Parenthood
- Democratic Views on Abortion
- Differences Between Democrats and Republicans
- Republican Views on Abortion
- Republican Views On Stem Cell Research
- Democratic Views on Medicare
- Democratic View on Health Care
- Democratic Views On Banking Regulation
- Libertarian Views On Health Care
- Democratic Views on Welfare