With the recent government shutdown scare, there’s been a great deal of debate as to why negotiations were so difficult. In the end, the reasons seem to be more ideological than fiscal in nature. One of the biggest issues: abortion. Of course, it was half-heartedly disguised in an effort to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides valuable information and help on sexual health issues for men and women who may not be able to afford it otherwise. Here is why conservatives should get their facts straight and back off.

1.) Educational Material
Planned Parenthood is one of the leading organizations dedicated to promoting awareness of sexual health issues. A visit to the website (www.plannedparenthood.org) or one of the 820 centers across the nation can uncover abundance of lifesaving, useful or, at the very least, interesting information on topics ranging from STDs to body image.

2.) Birth control
Many low-income families cannot afford any more children. Conservatives would like poor people to simply stop having sex, but realistically that is so not going to happen. When abstinence is not desirable or feasible, contraception comes into play. Planned Parenthood makes it possible for these lower income families to have some control over their procreation when many feel they have no control over other parts of their lives.

3.) STD and HIV screenings
Although the AIDS scare is in the past to a certain extent, it is still true that there is no cure for this or most other sexually transmitted diseases. Getting tested for these diseases can be embarrassing and demeaning, as well as costly. Planned Parenthood provides a more comfortable environment to undergo these necessary tests, and it provides a trustworthy name many are familiar with.

4.) Breast Cancer screenings
Approximately 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. Regular screenings, such as breast exams or mammograms, make it more likely that the cancer will be caught early enough to increase the woman’s chances of survival. However, like most health related and life-saving procedures, breast screenings are not cheap, and many women cannot afford them. Planned Parenthood helps women who may not have health insurance to receive the exams that could save their lives.

5.) Infertility Counseling
According to various studies, one in six couples experiences issues with infertility. Planned Parenthood provides support groups and one-on-one services to help couples overcome fertility hurdles and the feelings of inadequacy or depression which can arise. Critics of the organization like to point at abortion, but this neglects the important fact that Planned Parenthood doesn’t just help women keep from getting pregnant. They also help women who desperately want children conceive.

6.) Federal Funds Debate
Of the approximately $360 million Planned Parenthood receives from the Federal government, exactly $0 of that goes to funding abortions. It is illegal to use federal funds to directly pay for abortions, which is a debatable topic all on its own, but perhaps that will be expounded on at another time. For now, it suffices to say that the ideology which almost caused a government shutdown last week is founded on misinformation. Yes, Planned Parenthood provides abortion services for women who need them. No, the money to do so does not come from taxpayer dollars.

7.) 820 Health Centers across the USA
Federal funds provide one-third of the necessary funding for the 820 Planned Parenthood health centers around the nation. These centers rely on these funds to help low-income men and women who may not have health insurance. Also, none of these centers provide exactly the same services. Planned Parenthood Federation of America is the U.S. branch of an international organization, but each center is still subject to state laws, as well. In attacking the organization, conservatives are making sweeping generalizations, as well as denying funding to one of the essential proponents of women’s health.

8.) It’s never going to pass anyway
There’s a reason Republicans are holding so staunchly to this idea of preventing funding in the federal budget. They can’t get a bill to pass the good old-fashioned way. They’ve tried and failed more than once. The conservatives simply don’t have the votes necessary to get rid of Planned Parenthood or abortions.