Editor's note — Recent polls show a shifting of support between pro-choice and anti-abortion factions. Read about how anti-abortion groups have hardened their resolve while adopting a strategy of compassion in their efforts to ban abortions.
While mainstream anti-abortion groups whittle away at access to and funding for abortions, regional leaders of Planned Parenthood say the pro-reproductive rights strategy is two-fold:
- Work to promote prevention services such as birth control through programs, sex education and legislation.
- Fight legislation that restricts access to such services.
“We do more to prevent unintended pregnancy and abortion than any of those protesters (against abortion) are going to,” said Michelle Trupiano, public affairs manager and lobbyist for Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri.
In a recent phone interview, Trupiano acknowledged that anti-abortion forces have made progress in limiting access. But she said she doesn’t believe they are achieving their ultimate goal.
“They have been successful as far as putting up many roadblocks as possible,” she said. “But abortion numbers are not decreasing. Women are still going to access the services they need, even if they have to jump through 30 different hoops to get them.”
Trupiano provided e-mail responses to questions about Planned Parenthood’s role in Missouri's abortion wars and to some recent anti-abortion activities and statements.
What is the likely impact of the "late-term abortion act" passed by the 2011 Missouri General Assembly?
Current law — in place since 1974 — bans abortion after viability unless the physician determines that a woman’s life or health is in danger. With the new law, legislators ignore medical science and the current viability standards and instead write their own ambiguous and vague standards that undermine the physician’s judgment and could place a woman’s health and life at risk.
Women facing medically complex pregnancies, such as those with severe fetal indications, often have no knowledge of the complications with their pregnancies until 20-plus week's gestation.
In rare and tragic circumstances, continuing a pregnancy may cause harm to a fetus or pose other risks but not meet the newly crafted health endangerment description in (the new law).
What services does Planned Parenthood offer besides abortion?
Medical services include family planning and contraception, pregnancy testing, HIV testing, treatment of sexually transmitted infections, detection of cervical, breast and testicular cancers and vaccinations against hepatitis and cervical cancer.
Planned Parenthood also provides comprehensive, medically accurate sex education to make sure our youth have all the information they need to make good health decisions about their sexuality.
Over 97 percent of our services are about prevention. Prevention means allowing patients access to medically accurate information and services and doing everything possible to reduce unintended pregnancy, which decreases abortions.
While the pro-life movement focuses on abortion, which makes up about 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services, they ignore the wide range of services that Planned Parenthood provides that actually decrease the number of abortions.
Does tax money fund abortion services in any way?
Let me reassert that no federal or state tax money goes to fund abortions. It’s like a brick wall — there are very strict guidelines we follow. For example, on the days abortion services are provided, we only serve women seeking abortion care.
Those clients looking for other services, including family planning services, are scheduled on other days. Abortion is paid for entirely by the patient since Missouri has a ban on insurance companies covering abortion.
Federal family planning money goes only to patient medical services. Other costs are funded by grants from foundations and donations from supporters.
Do pregnancy resource centers offer the same services as Planned Parenthood?
Pregnancy resource centers do not offer any medical services beyond pregnancy tests and limited ultrasounds. (They) are also notorious for giving women medically inaccurate information and do not talk to women about birth control options to prevent another unintended pregnancy.
Some Planned Parenthood clients have utilized the resources of pregnancy resource centers only to find that support ended after the birth of the child. These clients end up back in Planned Parenthood’s clinic for an abortion a couple of years later because no one at the PRC talked to them about or gave them access to birth control.
On March 19, Planned Parenthood arrived at Columbia’s clinic in a pink bus as part of the organization's Truth Tour. What was the purpose of that gathering?
The purpose of the Pink Bus rally was to engage supporters against the extremists in Congress who were using the federal budget to promote their anti-choice agenda. It was to give supporters of Planned Parenthood a chance to collectively voice their opposition to attempts to defund Planned Parenthood.
What is Planned Parenthood’s response to the 40 Days for Life campaigns?
Planned Parenthood’s main priority is keeping everyone safe. Planned Parenthood workers do not engage with the protesters. We are going to continue to deliver services, and we are proud of the work we do. We are going to stand up for women and their health care.
The efforts of 40 Days for Life to shut down Planned Parenthood on a local level combined with a national effort to cut funding for the facility has inspired a new wave of support.
40 Days for Life says it does not use graphic images or language in its campaign. Has that been the case here?
I don’t remember 40 Days for Life in Columbia using graphic signs or language, but in the last few weeks of the campaign this year, the participants seemed to become more aggressive and intimidating, shouting at some of workers, following them off the parking lot and showing up to lobby days.
And while the protesters have never been violent or inflammatory, their tactics are concerning. As a whole, the 40 Days for Life movement seems determined to shut us down, … and this only encourages the pride and determination of those who work for Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood’s website cites that one in three woman in the U.S. will have an abortion before they are 45. What is the relevance of that statistic?
Abortion is an issue that touches everyone. Planned Parenthood works very hard to provide the full range of reproductive health services, including abortion, in a nonjudgmental manner. But the other side has put a veil of shame on it.
Statements such as “You will regret this” and “We are praying for you” signify there is something to be ashamed of. Women who are happy with their decision don’t tell people because they fear that shame and embarrassment, which is a direct result of the other side.