The winter finale of Scandal is grabbing the attention of not just avid watchers. It’s also being praised for tackling a consistent headline producing organization – Planned Parenthood. If you didn’t catch the episode don’t worry. I won’t spoil it for you. All I will say is that I yelled out “OMG!” near the end of the episode. I didn’t see that one coming even though small clues were there.
But back to the topic at hand.
During the episode Mellie Grant, former First Lady turned Senator, goes against the establishment and fights to save funding for Planned Parenthood from going into the discretionary column. It’s a scene that’s played out time and time again in the real world. It’s no surprise Scandal, a show led by a strong female lead at the helm, tackled this issue. It’s a case where art accurately portrays a current trending topic.
A recent analysis shows without Planned Parenthood vulnerable populations would suffer, “Planned Parenthood is sometimes the only available provider for low-income women who need family planning services. Without it, other safety net organizations would struggle to meet patients’ contraceptive needs.” Those services include birth control, STD screening, breast exams, cancer detection and much more. Whether or not you’ve entered one of their 700 health centers across the US chances are someone you know has. Access to quality affordable health care benefits everyone whether you’re personally the recipient or not.
Planned Parenthood garners attention and vitriol from the right because they perform abortions. According to the nonprofit, abortion services makes up three percent of the services they offer. The federal dollars they receive don’t go towards performing abortions. The issue the right has with the organization is ideological. Republicans often tout their pro-life records when the issue of defunding arises.
Irin Carmon with Salon.com writes:
The right’s hatred of Planned Parenthood requires some logical inconsistencies, to put it mildly. It means constantly accusing the nonprofit organization of greedy profiteering, even while fantasizing over how stripping Planned Parenthood of federal funding for health services might shut its doors. It means professing to hate abortions but doing everything possible to deny access to contraception — from trying to keep Planned Parenthood from getting Title X funding to opposing comprehensive coverage for contraception under the Affordable Care Act, for which Planned Parenthood was a key lobbyist.
Despite endless efforts by social conservatives to defund Planned Parenthood Americans approve of the organization. According to a recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll, “six in 10 Americans say they’re opposed to completely eliminating Planned Parenthood’s federal funding — including more than 40 percent who are ‘strongly’ opposed.”
Political debates aside, whether or not Planned Parenthood deserves your support or not begins with measuring your personal values with their clearly defined goals.
— Lisa Edge
Editor’s Note: Heads up, this note contains the spoiler alert. This set up of the The Planned Parenthood fight was a great segue into the Oliva versus Fitzgerald Grant fight that was surely coming. In recent episodes, he’s (as in republican conservative imaginary President Grant) been keeping her from her life and her own decisions, and she’s been complying in a very unlike Olivia Pope fashion, so much so that she’s resorted to drinking hooch. You could say it’s no surprise that Olivia found herself getting an abortion at the end of the episode. Mellie won her battle on the hill and Olivia found herself again…something that despite what conservatives often preach, can and does happen to women after abortions. They live happy, healthy lives because they did exactly what was right for them.