NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

The Benefits of Planned Parenthood

Margaret Sanger was the founder of an organization called the “American Birth Control League,” which provided safe birth control options for women. In 1942, the name was changed to Planned Parenthood and expanded their services to include much more than birth control.

Today, Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization that is partially funded by the federal government. In addition to birth control and abortions, Planned Parenthood offers women’s health education, mammograms and pap smears, as well as STD/STI tests.

Planned Parenthood has been receiving negative attention lately because an anti-abortion group posted a video of Deborah Nucatola who is the senior director of the organization. The video showed Nucatola talking about how the organization sells fetal tissue and organs for profit but never specified where the profit is coming from. I found the video to be very inappropriate because not only was Nucatola unaware that she was being filmed, but also because there is evidence that the video was doctored.  It is accurate that Planned Parenthood sells tissue and organs for scientific research, but it is done legally and not for profit. Even in light of questions about the legitimacy of the video, some politicians are threatening to defund Planned Parenthood, using the argument that all life is sacred and that life begins at conception. Absent from this argument is the practice of fertility clinics who routinely destroy embryonic tissue.

Hannah Heckman-McKenna is a theater major at NECC and she feels strongly about the function that Planned Parenthood serves. “Regarding fetal tissue… I must say that anybody freaking out about this is clearly unaware of how important fetal tissue can be in research. The vast majority of us have benefitted from something that used fetal tissue in testing and development. Many vaccines, including that for polio and rubella, relied on fetal tissue. Even those refusing vaccines, instead relying on herd immunity, have fetal tissue research to thank for not contracting these horrific ailments. Beyond vaccinations, fetal tissue is used in developing treatments for AIDS, cancer, diabetes, and spinal cord injuries,” she said.  

As a woman, I think it would be wrong to defund Planned Parenthood over a video that isn’t even completely accurate. Planned Parenthood provides necessary services that are beneficial to women because of the services that they provide for a reasonable cost. Women can go to Planned Parenthood and either have insurance cover the expenses or they can apply for free services through the Family Planning Benefit Program.

“Other than abortion, it provides mammograms for cancer screening, pap smears and birth control. If a person really wants to prevent abortions, birth control is really the only way, so I don’t understand why this is even an issue. My mother went to Planned Parenthood when she got pregnant with my older sister to confirm the pregnancy and get started with her prenatal care. They do a lot of good in a lot of different ways. This apparent desire to keep women under the control of men through our reproductive rights and our desire to find cancer … it is getting extremely tiresome,” said Heckman-McKenna.