Millions of women rely on Planned Parenthood for lifesaving care.
In 2013, Jaime Benner discovered a lump in her right breast. She credits Planned Parenthood with saving her life.
Her primary care provider couldn’t get her in for a screening for three weeks. Not only was Planned Parenthood able to get her in for an appointment that day, but they stood with her through the process of getting a referral for an emergency mammogram and beyond.
“The radiologist report came back inconclusive,” she says. “But Planned Parenthood refused to accept that answer and sent me for further testing.”
Two and a half weeks later, she underwent a complete radical mastectomy. “By the time I had my mastectomy, which was only a few weeks later, my cancer was spreading into my lymphatic system,” she adds. “A day could have been the difference between the stage 3b cancer I had and stage 4.”
Benner is the face of a new campaign to help save the organization’s federal funding in a video that features an unexpected voice of support: Donald Trump.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, then-candidate Trump occasionally toed the Republican Party line in opposition to Planned Parenthood while other times he spoke frankly, sharing a important truths about just how vital the organization’s services are to millions of people.
In a new 30-second ad for Planned Parenthood, Benner tells her own story, accompanied by clips of Trump, speaking in his own words about why Planned Parenthood matters. The video includes the notable moment from a Republican primary debate when he said, “Millions and millions of women — cervical cancer, breast cancer — are helped by Planned Parenthood.”
That wasn’t the only time Trump defended Planned Parenthood. In an interview with Fox News’ Sean Hannity in August 2015, Trump debunked the idea that the group is first and foremost an abortion provider — a claim that serves as the source of much of the controversy surrounding the organization — correctly noting that abortion is “actually a fairly small part of what they do.”
If Planned Parenthood weren’t around, people like Benner couldn’t just go somewhere else. There aren’t other local health clinics that can cover that patient load.
A recent analysis by the Congressional Budget Office found that defunding Planned Parenthood would have a disastrous effect on women’s health care options, especially those who rely on Medicaid.
“Not only did Planned Parenthood get me the testing I needed to find out I had cancer, they got everything together to get me Medicaid so I would have coverage,” Benner says. “I’m not sure if you’ve ever looked into the costs associated with cancer, but one shot I used after chemo was $7,000 a syringe each time. I’m sure most average people couldn’t afford to purchase one of those every two weeks.”
Benner isn’t alone. It’s estimated that 1 in 5 women in the U.S. has visited a Planned Parenthood health center. While Republican politicians have the organization in their crosshairs, a majority of Americans (including a majority of Republicans, as a group) oppose cutting off funds to Planned Parenthood, with a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll finding that 75% of the public opposes cutting the group’s funding.
Planned Parenthood is a lifeline for people of all political ideologies, and Donald Trump — clearly — knows it. The question remains, however, whether he and others will cut it off anyway.
“We have to help women,” Trump said during the 2015 interview with Hannity. “A lot of women are helped [by Planned Parenthood].”
Now stuck between his pledge to “help women” and his promise to defund Planned Parenthood, Trump needs to choose one or the other. Benner, and millions of women like her, hope he’ll stand on the side of survivors.
Using Trump’s own words to make a point about why it’s necessary to save Planned Parenthood is a pretty genius — and hopefully effective — move.