Thoughts on Planned Parenthood

I am probably a week too late to comment on The Komen Foundation’s decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood and the subsequent reversal of this decision. And yet reflection so rarely happens in real time that it may be best to revisit the topic with the clearer sight distance affords.


Many evangelicals rightly responded with joy when the decision came to cut support. Planned Parenthood has been at the forefront of abortion-rights activism since its inception. Its founder, Margaret Sanger, held to an unconscionable vision of eugenics closely akin to that of Adolf Hitler, and declared openly that she supported abortion as a means to limit the African American population. (Her vision, I might add, has largely been realized, as more African American pregnancies end in abortion than birth.) More than sixty million children have died in this socially acceptable holocaust—in large part because of the work of Planned Parenthood and similar organizations. As evangelicals we cannot—and should not—support any institution so wholly committed to a modern slaughter of innocents.


But there is another issue—and one we too often overlook. Abortion accounts for only 3% of the services Planned Parenthood provides. Other services include breast-cancer screening and contraception for many impoverished women.[1] Providing for the basic needs of the poor and marginalized remains an indispensable outworking of the gospel for the church today. In our righteous zeal to see Planned Parenthood defunded and ultimately defunct, have we given sufficient thought as to who will provide these services now? Have we begun providing them ourselves?


If we were doing what we should be doing—if we had the same commitment to living the gospel visibly and tangibly among the poor that the early church did—perhaps our political battles would be less needlessly acrimonious and sadly abortive.

[1] A brief aside: assuming the contraception offered is not an abortafacient, we should have no qualms about providing it. I suspect the squeamishness comes from a fear that providing contraception will lead to an increase in promiscuity. I am not sure this argument makes sense, though. We should never be so naïve as to think people will not have extramarital sex; they always will. Contraception simply keeps them from compounding the sin. It is no different than saying, “Do not get drunk. But if you do get drunk, at least do not drive.” In fact, I think God himself makes a similar allowance when it comes to divorce (in the Old Testament). In effect, he says, “Do not get divorced. But if you do, at least make sure you provide for the basic needs of the spurned woman” (cf. Deuteronomy 24:1-4 and Jesus’ words in Mark 10:1-5). Contraception does not cause promiscuity; sin does.

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