Before you keep reading, let’s be clear: this blog is about the universal human right to the highest attainable standard of health, the package of services it takes to be well—and the ability to afford it. It’s also about the implications of the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to stop providing grants to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America for breast cancer screening. Because too often, women’s health falls victim to agendas that prevent women from exercising their human rights. It’s about the big picture.
According to Planned Parenthood, the vast majority of its services are the provision of information and education about health, well-being and sexuality; prevention of and response to gender-based violence; prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS; and family planning counseling and supplies. These services are provided to both men and women, of all ages, of all income levels. They are part of basic health care.
It was a Planned Parenthood clinic that helped diagnose my auto-immune disease after running standard blood work during a regular check-up more than ten years ago. Yes, I am among the one in five American women who has depended on a Planned Parenthood clinic. Why? Because I got good, comprehensive care—and I could afford it. I got the same annual exam I get now at a more expensive private practice paid for by my health insurance. This is what the right to the highest attainable standard of health means: Equal care for all.
Across the country, Planned Parenthood’s 800 clinics are available to anyone who needs them, offering non-discriminatory, affordable access to quality, comprehensive care. Planned Parenthood indicates that more than 75% of its patients in the U.S. live on incomes the equivalent of $33,000 a year for a family of four, or less. For them, Planned Parenthood or an equivalent clinic may be their only choice.
The human right to health is universal, basic, and often a matter of life and death. But for many people in this country and around the world, it is a luxury. Planned Parenthood and thousands of other community-based clinics across the country seek to treat all people equally, and ensure the highest attainable standard of health for everyone who comes to them for care. Breast cancer screenings are part of comprehensive health care for all women. A significant funding cut, regardless of the source or the service it paid for, threatens the big picture.
Amnesty International’s Demand Dignity Campaign focuses on violations of human rights that stem from poverty. All too often, one of these is a violation of the right to health. So, as an organization that fights to protect all rights for all people everywhere, we stand with Planned Parenthood—not because of any one service they provide, but because of all of them.