While Congress argues over whether to stop giving money to Planned Parenthood, there is one necessary yet far more costly and dangerous industry than women’s health care. That industry is the pharmaceutical industry and no one is talking about defunding them, despite the fact that they are also in the “abortion business.”
Let’s get the boring numbers out of the way. Planned Parenthood receives about $500 million a year in government funding. That’s less than $2.00 per person per year. Abortions represent about 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services and not a single dime of that money comes from the federal government. The vast majority of Planned Parenthood’s services involve offering pap screens, STD tests, contraception and various low and no-cost health care services to low-income people.
Now, let’s contrast that with the pharmaceutical industry. I’m not going to vilify the entire industry. They do a lot of good, but they also do a lot of bad and we are paying them a fortune to do it.
The pharmaceutical industry has their hands stuck in just about every pocket we have. Most Americans know that the costs of pharmaceuticals are out of control. As costs to us continue to rise, the 11 top pharmaceutical firms are profiting at a rate of about $7 billion each, each and every year. That’s just profit — much of it from good old fashioned price gouging.
The drug industry’s profits are excessive as a result of overcharging American consumers and taxpayers,” said Ethan Rome, HCAN’s executive director. “During this period, as millions of Americans struggled to afford their medicines, Republicans in Congress have threatened to cut seniors’ benefits while refusing to consider commonsense measures to get a better deal from drug companies.
That is all because of George Bush’s Medicare Part D, which made it illegal for drug companies to negotiate.
Drug makers charge customers in the U.S. – especially the government – vastly more for the same drugs than they do in places like Canada and Europe, where government health plans bargain with the drug companies to protect their citizens. Per capita drug spending in the U.S. is about 40 percent higher than in Canada, 75 percent greater than in Japan and nearly triple the amount spent in Denmark.
While they say that the money is used to fund research, and that’s how it often appears on their books, universities and biotech firms are responsible for half the drug innovations — and not at a profit.
But the fight against Planned Parenthood has never been about the money. The fight against Planned Parenthood is a political wedge issue. If it’s about anything other than politics (I have a hard time believing any but the most virulently anti-choice in Congress really care that much about abortion), it’s about abortions.
Again, Planned Parenthood is a healthcare provider who happens to offer abortion services at some of their locations. They are not an abortion provider who happens to offer some healthcare services. In 2013, they performed 327,653 abortions. All of these were legal. Many abortions, both inside Planned Parenthood clinics and in other locations, are induced by drugs. Roughly a quarter of all abortions involve pharmaceuticals and often at a very large profit. Where is Congress on that?
Now, let’s for just a moment set aside the pro vs. anti-choice argument and agree that the born should have at least equal value to the unborn. Pharmaceuticals are directly responsible for the deaths of about 128,000 people a year and an additional 2.74 million have serious adverse reactions. Prescription drugs are the 4th leading cause of death in this country.
I’m not going to make the claim that no one has ever died because of Planned Parenthood malpractice. That would be naive. Any healthcare organization as large as theirs is going to do something wrong, but their record is pretty damned good compared to many others. Just for comparison, google “wrongful death” for Planned Parenthood and for Kaiser (or any other large nationwide healthcare provider). One name shows up for PP and let’s just say a lot more than one from Kaiser.
The fact remains, though, that Planned Parenthood is not breaking any laws. They perform legal abortions. With the patient’s permission, they sometimes donate fetal tissue to medical research. Nothing Planned Parenthood does is inherently worse than anything drug companies do, but the drug companies win because they make enough money that they are able to buy votes in Congress and let’s face it, the majority of Planned Parenthood’s clientele probably votes Democrat.
Featured image via Flickr.