A Move to Defund Planned Parenthood Health Centers Shuts Radnor Landmark

Noah Offenkrantz

The St. David’s Planned Parenthood Health Center, located at 515 East Lancaster Avenue, closed unexpectedly on September 11th, 2015. First founded in 1927, this Planned Parenthood location has proudly served the greater Radnor community up until its recent closing. Given that the Center has provided medical assistance and guidance for nearly a century, its closing has come as a shock to many Radnor community members. A lack of information regarding the Center’s rationale for shutting its doors has sparked various rumors and speculations, especially in light of recent Republican efforts to defund the national Planned Parenthood organization. When asked to clarify the reasons for the Radnor location’s closing, Katy Otto, Planned Parenthood’s Media and Government Relations Specialist for the greater Philadelphia area, declared in an exclusive interview, “We recently closed the center at St. Davids. The decision was made to focus the limited resources we have in communities with a greater economic need.” Otto went on to say, “We’re very proud of our years of service to the communities on the Main Line, and we wanted to make sure that we were allocating the resources in the best way possible.” The average household income in Radnor Township is nearly $182,000, as compared to an average income of $65,000 in Upper Darby and $59,000 in Media, the locations which had the largest patient overlap with the St. David’s Center and remain open. While all of these household incomes are well above the national poverty line, recent studies reveal that individuals with lower incomes are more likely to need Planned Parenthood assistance than those with higher incomes. Consequently, an increase in the number of individuals using the Upper Darby and Media Planned Parenthood locations has pushed the organization to prioritize distribution of its limited resources. Otto explained, “Many of the patients we serve at the St. Davids Health Center also visit other Planned Parenthood Health Centers and reside or work in other communities, so we’ve notified all of the St. Davids patients about the other centers. Many now visit the Upper Darby or Media Health Centers.”

A paucity of funding for the St. Davids Health Center drained the location’s resources and was the ultimate factor behind the recent closing. This defunding effort began at the State government level where a campaign to withdraw financial support for the Pennsylvania Health Centers has threatened Planned Parenthood’s standing. The controversy which sparked the State’s defunding movement developed this past year when Republican Congressional representatives discovered evidence suggesting that several Planned Parenthood locations throughout the country had been profiting from the sale of fetal tissue. The veracity of these claims has been called into question, but several Republican Senators nevertheless refused to vote for a short-term spending bill unless funding for Planned Parenthood was reduced.

Planned Parenthood appointments are paid for in the same fashion as any doctor’s appointment. Planned Parenthood accepts private insurance and has a sliding cost scale which alleviates the economic burden for patients with financial constraints. The Health Centers also receive reimbursements from the State through Medicaid for STI testing and treatment as well as for the distribution of contraceptives. Besides patient fees and government aid, Planned Parenthood also accepts money from private donors and grants from private foundations. Otto explains, however, that Planned Parenthood “never [turns] anybody away due to lack of funds.” Backing for the Planned Parenthood cause continues to grow, Otto also noted. Recently, two hundred and fifty individuals showed up for a Philadelphia rally in support of Planned Parenthood and the services that it provides to people across the world. This support validates Katy Otto and her colleagues’ confidence that their work has had a positive impact on the Greater Philadelphia Region. When asked if she had any messages for the Radnor Community, Otto said, “We’re proud to offer a range of health services to women, men, and young people in the Philadelphia region, and that includes things such as STI testing and treatment and also cancer screening and family planning.”