In the wake of a highly coordinated and highly dishonest attack on Planned Parenthood, the New England Journal of Medicine, along with Lancet the most distinguished and prominent medical journals in the world, has issued a strong editorial condemning those attacks and supporting the organization as vital to the health of millions of women. They also defend the use of fetal tissue in medical research.
Planned Parenthood is under attack — again. This time, a campaign of misinformation about the retrieval of fetal tissue used in research and therapy is the excuse. When women have made the decision to terminate a pregnancy, Planned Parenthood allows them the opportunity to have the fetal tissue that would otherwise be discarded be used by qualified researchers to help answer important medical questions. The organization does so carefully, following all applicable laws and ethical guidelines. In a Perspective article now published in the Journal, Charo presents compelling arguments defending these uses of fetal tissue.1 Planned Parenthood, its physicians, and the researchers who do this work should be praised, not damned. The research is not easy to do, but as Charo explains, it has benefited millions of people worldwide. If the antichoice forces were allowed to rule the day, these advances would never have been made.We strongly support Planned Parenthood not only for its efforts to channel fetal tissue into important medical research but also for its other work as one of the country’s largest providers of health care for women, especially poor women. In 2013, the most recent year for which data are available, Planned Parenthood provided services to 2.7 million women, men, and young people during 4.6 million health center visits. At least 60% of these patients benefited from public health coverage programs such as the nation’s family-planning program (Title X) and Medicaid. At least 78% of these patients lived with incomes at or below 150% of the federal poverty level. Planned Parenthood’s services included nearly 400,000 Pap tests, nearly 500,000 breast examinations, nearly 4.5 million tests for sexually transmitted illnesses (including HIV), and treatments. The contraception services that Planned Parenthood delivers may be the single greatest effort to prevent the unwanted pregnancies that result in abortions.
It is shameful that a radical antichoice group whose goal is the destruction of Planned Parenthood continues to twist the facts to achieve its ends. We thank the women who made the choice to help improve the human condition through their tissue donation; we applaud the people who make this work possible and those who use these materials to advance human health. We are outraged by those who debase these women, this work, and Planned Parenthood by distorting the facts for political ends.
Hear, hear. Getting rid of Planned Parenthood would significantly increase the number of unwanted pregnancies (studies have found that PP helps prevent more than 500,000 abortions a year), cause massive suffering due to cancers not screened for, STDs not detected or treated, and untold numbers of women being forced into back alley abortions rather than ones that are medically safe.