Planned Parenthood in political, religious crosshairs Cassie Rhame Staff Writer The Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), originally called the American Birth Control League, is a non-profit organization that has been around since 1921. So why all the sudden controversy?

Since the start of the debates for the 2016 election, the topic of defunding the PPFA has been at the top of Republican candidates’ platforms, and its popularity is on the rise since the U.S. Senate took its first vote to defund it back in August. This vote was the first step to the now-occurring debates on the bill.

Undercover videos were released by the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress back in July “to expose the business of selling pieces of unborn children for profit,” which is what brought the clinics into the political battle. The videos have been under investigation ever since, and the PPFA responded that the videos were edited for the purpose of misleading viewers, and that fetal tissue donation is legal and for medical research – not for profit.

Many are unaware of exactly what the PPFA does, which could be one reason for the division.

“If you don’t have the money or the insurance, you can go there (PPFA),” junior psychology major Sydney Austin said. “Insurance is expensive, and these clinics are to make sure girls are healthy.”

The PPFA has approximately 700 clinics in the United States and abroad, and provided care for 2.7 million patients in 2013 (the latest data available). It gives the option of affordable birth control and inexpensive testing for women’s and men’s health-related issues for even the uninsured.

The website for the PPFA states, “The mission of Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, Inc. is to ensure the right and ability of all individuals to manage their sexual and reproductive health by providing health services, education and advocacy.”

To read more about exactly what the PPFA does, visit their website.

“The arguments I hear for it to be shut down mainly revolve around abortions,” senior exercise science major Madison Reid said. “While, yes, abortions are a large part of Planned Parenthood’s revenue, only about 3 percent of their money goes toward abortions, while the rest goes to things like contraception and STI/STD testing, which should be inexpensively provided to women.”

This chart shows the percentage for each service provided at Planned Parenthood clinics in 2013.

The opposition comes primarily from pro-life advocates and conservatives who do not trust the services the PPFA provides. Many say the clinics are simply a gateway to abortion and should be defunded due to its affiliation with these services.

“Everyone has a misconception that Planned Parenthood is all about abortion, and I wish people were more educated about it,” sophomore biology major Nan Saisoi said. “It does a lot for women’s health, and defunding it will not end abortions.”

“It is just a big ‘screw you’ to women if it were to be defunded,” Austin said.

This “misconception,” as Saisoi calls it, was validated as many students answered, “Well, I think babies deserve the right to live,” when asked their opinion on the PPFA and its suggested defunding.

“I should not be paying for a place that commits itself to ending babies’ lives,” said a Catholic UWF student who wished to remain anonymous. “We should not be giving all this money to an organization that is purely evil.”

“It is about making sure the baby and mother are healthy, and this should make even pro-choice people happy,” Saisoi said.

President of the PPFA Cecile Richards did not back down when it came to defending her institution for the first congressional hearing on the issue. Watch here.

“It’s a shame to think that there are people in this country who are so committed to ending women’s access to both birth control and safe and legal abortion that they’ll really resort to any means to try to entrap people and twist the truth in order to reach their ends,” Richards said. “But again, we believe, and why I’m here voluntarily today, is that the facts are on our side.”

This is a touchy topic for many, and there are those who put full faith in the videos released by the Center for Medical Progress. Pro-life advocates believe their tax money has been providing for abortions and the selling of baby parts for profit, while others do not believe the authenticity of the videos.

So what would happen economically if the defunding of the PPFA were to happen? According to Slate, an online current affairs and culture magazine, “Simply put, Planned Parenthood offers extremely cost-effective care compared to other government-funded providers, and each dollar spent on contraception saves taxpayers multiple dollars down the line.”

“The amount of money that could be lost by pushing Medicaid patients into other clinics is substantial,” Slate writer Amanda Marcotte said.

The defunding of the PPFA will be debated on more in the coming year, and because of the Senate vote, will be introduced on the 2016 ballot.

For anyone who would like to add their voice to the issue, there are petitions for both sides.