About Those “Thousands and Thousands” of Planned Parenthood Alternatives


Anti-choice organizations are constantly trying to prove that Planned Parenthood clinics aren’t necessary by creating sites like this one that direct women to clinics that they say provide the same services as Planned Parenthood. Get Your Care’s mission, according to its website, is “to give women everywhere in America access to information about the thousands and thousands of quality care options women have available to them.”

Thousands and thousands, huh? I looked at their options in my Seattle ZIP code, which happens to be the lowest-income ZIP code in the city.  I was prepared to have few options, and for even fewer of them to offer comprehensive reproductive health care, but I wasn’t quite prepared for what I found: Every clinic the “pro-life” group directed me to were run by a single organization, Neighborcare. Of those, many do not explicitly provide women’s health care, in some cases for the simple reason that the locations listed as “substitutes” for Planned Parenthood were children’s clinics inside public schools. (Others were targeted specifically at homeless Seattleites.)

Neighborcare is a wonderful organization that provides critical services to low-income women and girls, including in-school clinics where teenagers can access sexual health information and birth control. But women can’t access children’s clinics, and non-homeless women are unlikely to avail themselves of homeless services. Of the clinics that remain, all are chronically underfunded, for the simple reason that there is more demand for health care services than there is available funding to provide those services. Flooding clinics that are already overtaxed with thousands of new patients from Planned Parenthood will mean that many women will no longer have access to quality, affordable health care in Seattle (and across the nation).

Neighborcare also, importantly, does not provide abortion services. They do provide abortion referrals—to Planned Parenthood. (In fact, the same day I posted on Facebook about the Get Your Care website, a Neighborcare representative called me at NARAL Pro-Choice Washington, where I work as communications director, asking for information about abortion options.) Obviously, eliminating that option is precisely the intention of groups that promote the idea that “women’s health care” doesn’t include the right to terminate a pregnancy, but history tells us that women will still get abortions, safe and legal or otherwise, no matter how much the public moralists tell them they shouldn’t.

In 2011, according to the Guttmacher Institute, around 22,000 women in Washington state obtained legal abortions from providers like Planned Parenthood. Anti-choice organizations who say women can just “go somewhere else” aren’t just telling low-income women that they don’t deserve the same quality health care options as those with means. They’re telling millions of women across the country who aren’t rich or influential that their health care doesn’t matter.

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