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Decision on Utah Planned Parenthood funding impacts college students

October 22nd, 2015 Posted in Opinion


A U.S. District Court judge’s order to continue state funding to Planned Parenthood on Thursday may keep the organization’s operations running through the end of the year — but Utah State students who use the non-profit’s services are concerned about what might happen after that.

“I don’t have insurance anymore, so I go to Planned Parenthood to get my birth control,” said Gabi Craynor, a student at Utah State and a resident of Cache Valley. “Because I don’t make enough money, I qualify to be on donation at Planned Parenthood. Which means I can go get my pill that would normally be $18, but because of the services Planned Parenthood provides, I just ‘donate’ to them what I can afford. If I didn’t go to Planned Parenthood I wouldn’t be able to get the kind of birth control I need.”

According to the Utah Planned Parenthood health services statistics from January to December of 2014, the organization’s top gender and age group is women between the ages of 20-30 — the demographic age group of many women at Utah State.

“If the state decides to withdraw federal funding at the end of the year, college students across the state will be affected directly,” said Karrie Galloway, president and CEO of the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah. “That age group is considered a high-risk age group. They are in the most need of STD testing and birth control distribution. If those services aren’t available for those students, the state would be doing them a disservice.”

Aaron Oborn, the president of the USU College Democrats, said that in addition to the concern of losing services provided through state funding, the issue of affordability rises as well.

“Students usually aren’t the wealthiest group, and because of the services Planned Parenthood provides, those low-income students have quality care available to them they may not otherwise be able to afford,” Oborn said. “Though there are other resources available throughout the state, I think Planned Parenthood provides the care both necessary and realistic for students as well.”

Judge Clark Waddoups’ order comes in the wake of Gov. Gary Herbert’s decision to block the flow of federal funding to the organization through the state. Herbert’s decision came shortly after secret;y recorded footage was released by a California anti-abortion group that showed Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue donations made for medical research. Planned Parenthood sued Herbert in September, arguing that his decision to defund the organization was unconstitutional based on unproven accusations that Planned Parenthood officials in other states illegally sold tissue from abortions for medical research.

The state government will make an official decision on Dec. 31, which will determine the future of the Utah chapter of Planned Parenthood and where those funds could be directed in the coming year.

The decision will affect many Utah residents, especially those in need of low-cost care. There are nine Planned Parenthood Utah health centers, including one in Cache Valley, home to Utah State University.

However, according to Galloway, if the state does decide to withdraw federal funding from the organization, Planned Parenthood plans to continue its programs that federal funding had previously paid for.

“We will find another way,” Galloway said. “We’re just going to have to sharpen our pencils and go to work. We’ve done a lot of good fundraising in the past, and we will continue to do what’s necessary to provide the services we’ve promised to our community.”

According to the Planned Parenthood website, 24 percent of its revenue comes from government funding. The rest comes from contributions, client fees, insurance, medicaid and other incomes.

Even some students who are politically aligned with Herbert are having reservations about the governor’s attempt to cut the organization’s funding.

“I feel Planned Parenthood benefits the community as a whole,” said Peter Gilbert, a student and the president of the USU College Republicans. “Like Gov. Herbert, I do not agree with abortion, but that is only a small portion of the services that organization provides. And low income people, including students, who cannot afford health care need that coverage. So cutting those services would not be good.”

More information about the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah is available at plannedparenthood.org/planned-parenthood-utah.

Brenna Kelly, Nicole Cowdell, Stephen Baker, Haley Larsen and Madison McCann contributed to this report.


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