It is time to privatize family planning. There is no reason our government should be involved in family planning issues. Family planning is the right and decision of women, their partners, other family members, the family doctor and in some cases, clergy, if desired. As a for-profit business, the primary outcome would be providing underserved women with free family planning products and services. Additionally let's all remember that the most controversial service, abortion, is legal. We have to stop fighting for it as though it is not legal, as this only serves to somehow diminish its validity. A for-profit company would only solidify the legitimacy of the current legal status of abortion.
A business model to emulate is that of Newman's Own, which has run effectively and efficiently for years: a for-profit entity that funds its nonprofit entity with after-tax profits. Here's how it would work. The for-profit side of the business would offer products through an 800 number, 1-800-FAM-PLAN (same as say, 1-800-CONTACTS), and a website. This Amazon.com-like warehouse would carry everything under the sun related to family planning (think birth control pills, condoms, pregnancy tests, Viagra, the morning after pill, etc.) - anything and everything you can get at your local drug store and pharmacy. But there's more, this one-stop shop will also offer all types of hygiene products (from tampons to deodorants) and sexual well-being complements -- lubricants, enhancers, vibrating or otherwise. Now we're making money.
This after-tax profit will be transferred over to the nonprofit side of the company. The result will be a network of family planning centers with relationships to hospitals in every city in every state. These could be supplemental to or separate from Planned Parenthoods - which the company would, without doubt, also fund. Additional remote locations connected to the Centers will help reach families in rural locations. If need be, women will be escorted (by plane, train, bus, minivan or personal driver) to be counseled, offered products and services, cared for and protected (with our own security detail) in any and all ways. It will be a positive force in America's market, with growth and job opportunities, and a healthy consumer-friendly, pro-active way to help women, men and families with every family planning need.
Imagine his thriving free-market entity, managed entirely without a single tax dollar. If the government (federal, state or local) were to interfere, they would be sued for obstruction of business. We are after all, a capitalistic country - who would stop a business from the pursuit to be profitable? That would simply be un-American. Speaking of this, it is important to understand that the current state of family planning with limiting of access and services is racist. The fact is, if abortion is ever illegal, those with means, who also happen to be (demographically) predominately white, will be able to travel to Canada or Europe for an abortion if necessary. Those without means, the majority who happen to be minorities, will not have the same access and privilege to do so and will further be trapped in the cycle of poverty and continued institutional racism based on the laws our governing bodies impose.
The slew of recent articles about abortion has only reinforced the importance of getting our government and its laws off our bodies. The old joke that if men got pregnant, abortions would be handled "drive-through" like at a fast food restaurant -- is no joke. It is no surprise Viagra is covered by almost all insurance companies, but birth control is not. Women in rural areas are often beholden to conservative pharmacists' decisions of whether they can even get their birth control prescription filled. Even in liberal New York City one cannot easily get Plan B (the "morning after pill" -- which by law is supposed to on the public shelves as it is over-the-counter) because it is behind the pharmacy counter. Concerned about its availability for my daughter's friend who was in need of it, I checked my local pharmacy here in lower Manhattan and when I found it was behind the counter, I asked the pharmacist why? He shrugged. I reminded him it was the law to have it on the public shelves in the store, he shrugged again and said that he didn't want it getting into the wrong hands. I had no idea who those wrong hands might be - young women in need? Those hands are "wrong?" Based on a study by Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia University Medical Center (2014), pharmacists have refused to sell Plan B to women, or asked for their I.D., and in many cases, even refused to sell it to men. And then there are many pharmacies that specifically do not stock it - making their stance perfectly clear.
Throw in, for the sake of covering all business functions and angles, the recent article about a Harvard-educated woman trying to build a better tampon for women but can't because she can't get funding because she's a woman? Because it is a woman's product? Guess what -- 1-800-FAM-PLAN will also fund this kind product development and R&D.
The bottom line is women have to make the decision to matter. To take what we have now, which is a legal right to control our bodies, and put it to work for us. We need to have control over our bodies, our health and our futures. Let's also control the business to do just that - by owning it.