Dear Republican Party, This Is Why We Need Planned Parenthood

America's Republican party has always been pretty firmly anti-abortion, and very anti abortion care provider Planned Parenthood, but they've taken it to a new level in the lead-up to the 2016 election. The party platform released this week singles out the healthcare organization, and vows to defund it.

"We oppose the use of public funds to perform or promote abortion or to fund organizations, like Planned Parenthood, so long as they provide or refer for elective abortions," it states. "We will not fund or subsidize healthcare that includes abortion coverage."

There's a lot wrong with this, but sometimes the facts get lost in the debate. So here's a helpful refresher. Donald Trump, Mike Pence, if you're reading, this one's for you.

1. There's nothing illegal about what Planned Parenthood does

"We oppose embryonic stem cell research. We oppose federal funding of embryonic stem cell research," the platform states. Let's leave aside the fact that embryonic stem cell research has led to some crucial scientific breakthroughs in recent years. A key qualm raised by the GOP is that Planned Parenthood "sell[s] fetal body parts rather than provide[s] healthcare".

Allegations have been thrown around since last year about illegal tissue sale, which ignore that fact that P.P.'s fetal tissue donation is entirely legal—based on a 1993 bill voted in by a Republican Senator Mitch McConnell. Investigations showed P.P. had accepted reimbursement for the associated costs of storing and transporting tissue, and charges of illegal sales were cleared.

2. And they do so, so much more than provide abortion care

As The Guardian succinctly puts it, Planned Parenthood uses its public funding "to provide not abortions, but STI screenings, sex education, and contraception".

People know the Planned Parenthood brand. Possibly because that distinctive shade of blue is so familiar, possibly because it's an easy name to remember, possibly because the organization has locations nationwide, and millions of Americans rely on it to provide them with many essential healthcare services.

Inevitably, those who provide abortion care also become community pillars—havens for women in communities where safe places and health information might not be accessible. According to a Vox report from March this year, there's even evidence girls who live closer to a P.P. are less likely to drop out of high school.

3. They are meeting the needs and wants of communities around the country

"The Democratic Party is extreme on abortion," the Republican Platform states, with unintentionally massive irony. Apparently this puts the Clinton campaign "dramatically out of step with the American people".

Except it doesn't.

Millions of Americans, including religious groups, are passionately pro-choice. And in a 2016 Gallup poll, less than 20 percent of the population wants to criminalize abortion.

4. A woman's rights over her own body should be enshrined in law

And the organizations that support her in those rights should be protected. It's really that simple.

The Republican Platform says, "In order to encourage women who face an unplanned pregnancy to choose life, we support legislation that requires financial responsibility for the child be equally borne by both the mother and father upon conception until the child reaches adulthood."

This simplistic statement ignores the drastic financial, mental, and physical stresses an unplanned pregnancy can put on a woman, regardless of a father's role. But it also ignores the fact that the decision to carry out or to end a pregnancy is an entirely personal one either way.

Access to abortion is a health issue. It's a freedom issue. It's a legal right that American women have had since 1973, and it's hard to see the withdrawal of that right, via removal of a service, as anything except a step backwards.

Planned Parenthood cares for women in communities who need it.