Planned Parenthood fight: What does it mean for women's health?

Reality: Because abortion is believed to disrupt hormone cycles during pregnancy and breast cancer is linked to hormone levels, numerous studies have investigated a causal link - but found no conclusive evidence for one. More from Health.com: How to help a loved one cope with breast cancer
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(CBS) As Congressional budget talks continue in Washington, women's health is in the spotlight. Lawmakers were reportedly wrangling over funding for Planned Parenthood, a major provider of health care for women, including abortion and family planning services.

"This all deals with women's health," Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) told reporters in an exchange broadcast on CNN, the New York Times reported.

Whatever is decided, it could have broad implications for women, especially the poor. Seventy-five percent of Planned Parenthood's clients live close to the poverty line, according to the organization.

Planned Parenthood provides a wide array of medical services including reproductive health care, cancer screenings, and STD testing at more than 800 locations across the country. They are also the country's largest abortion provider.

And that's where they run into trouble with conservatives.

Republican lawmakers have questioned government funding of Planned Parenthood, saying the government shouldn't be in the business of supporting abortion - even indirectly. Planned Parenthood receives government support, though the funds are used for purposes other than abortions.

For all the controversy, abortion remains a common procedure in the U.S. A long-term decline in the abortion rate stalled between 2005 and 2008, according to the Guttmacher Institute. In 2008, 1.21 million abortions were performed, with about 40 percent of unintended pregnancies now being terminated by abortion.

"Abortion yields 37 percent of all Planned Parenthood revenues by conservative estimates," Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) said in an interview, according to a written statement released by her office.

An agency statement says 3 percent of their services are devoted to abortion. They didn't break out the revenue. They also claim to prevent more than half-a-million unintended pregnancies each year by distributing contraceptives. They estimate their efforts prevent 290,000 abortions each year.

Ayotte said he was also worried about a recent "sting" operation by the antiabortion group Live Action, in which men posing as pimps were videotaped interacting with Planned Parenthood workers.

"I'm troubled by what's come out in the videos that have shown that they were essentially looking the other way on sex-trafficking," Ayotte wrote.

Planned Parenthood isn't taking the criticism lying down.

"Reasonable people could have agreed on funding the government weeks ago, but a small group of extremists has been allowed to hold the government hostage to their narrow political agenda - one that has no place in the budget process," Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards said in a written statement. "It is truly unacceptable that a small group with an extreme political agenda is forcing a shutdown of the United States government over a dangerous proposal that would bar women from getting the lifesaving health care they need - breast exams, Pap tests, HIV tests and more."

WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Should the government de-fund Planned Parenthood or help them keep the doors open?

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