Iris Harvey: Planned Parenthood’s Health and Economic Benefits to the Community

By Fletcher Word
Sojourner’s Truth Editor

Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio contributes far more than health services to Ohio citizens. The organization also has a significant impact on the economic wellbeing of the communities it serves.

Planned Parenthood has taken quite a beaten over the last decade or so but particularly in the last five years since the passage of the Defund Planned Parenthood Act of 2017 which cut off federal funds to the organization unless they swore off performing abortions.

Through it all, says Iris Harvey, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio, the organization has maintained its record of providing health services to “patients who are seeking culturally competent and accessible providers,” even as “in Ohio and across the country intolerance is growing as a number of legislatures have introduced over 800 bills that impact abortion care providers.”

Harvey, president of the Greater Ohio branch for six years, is a native of New Jersey. She is a Fulbright Scholar and a Ford Foundation Scholar. She earned her undergraduate and master’s degrees in business administration from the University of Southern California and holds an EdS degree from George Washington University.

Prior to assuming her current position with Planned Parenthood, she spent more than 25 years in leadership roles in the public and private sectors.

Planned Parenthood is not, nor has ever been, primarily an abortion provider, notes Harvey. The organization. Over the years, Planned Parenthood has provided health services for birth control, sexually transmitted diseases, HIV testing, pregnancy testing and care and a wide range of general health services for both men and women.

Recently, however, to bolster the organization’s claim of its economic impact within the community, the Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio (PPOGO) engaged Capital Link to prepare a Value & Impact report using the health center’s 2020 audited financial statements and its Date System information.

The Capital Link report focused on the economic stimulus, the savings to the system and the care for vulnerable populations.

The economic stimulus section shows that the 17 centers of PPOGO add 255 jobs directly and an additional 166 other jobs in the community with a direct $25.3 direct health center spending impact and an additional $26 million in community spending. Such jobs generate $6.1 million in annual tax revenues – $1.1 for state and local governments and $4.9 for the federal government.

The Capital Link reports estimates that PPOGO saves the health system by lowering costs by 24 percent for its Medicaid patients – $45 million in savings to Medicaid and $88 million in overall health system savings.

As to the care for vulnerable populations, PPOGO experienced 88,070 patient visits in 2020, serving a total of 53,725 individuals. Those visits included 26,290 contraception visits, 5,990 breast and cervical cancer screenings, 91,828 STI tests. Sixty four percent of PPOGO’s patients are low income, 45.4 percent are an ethnic or racial minority and 29.9 percent of its patients are uninsured.

Harvey and the PPOGO commissioned the report “to be able to show the community we have economic value in the communities we serve,” says Harvey. “We are proving our success in contributions in dollars and cents.”

That economic success, she emphasizes, is a complement to the impact of the health system.

That impact has, of course, been accompanied by the enmity of anti-abortion activists.

But now comes Texas.

Senate Bill 8, recently passed by the Texas legislature and signed by the governor, prohibits abortions after a six-week period, with the only exceptions being medical emergencies – there are no exceptions for incest or rape.

Rape, apparently, will no longer be an issue in Texas, however, because Gov. Greg Abbott has announced that he plans to “eliminate rape” in the state. He did not answer the obvious question of why he has waited so long to “eliminate rape” but, one can only hope, that he will decide in the very near future to eliminate homicide and bank robberies and continue that streak of crime elimination.

In order to circumvent the fact that the state should be enforcing such a law, the SB 8 legislation gives the authority for enforcement to its citizens and enables anyone to sue any person or persons who assist a woman receiving an abortion. This law turns citizens of the wild, wild Texas west into “bounty hunters,” says Harvey.

“This is a piece of legislation that says that the only people that have authority are civilians,” she adds.

In addition, there is no limit as to how many citizens can sue an abortion provider or enabler. Looking ahead, there is no limit as to how many states – particularly red states – will follow the Texas example since the U.S. Supreme Court has declined to overturn the Texas bill.

Of key importance in the Texas bill is the arbitrary selection of six weeks to determine that a heartbeat is present in a fetus. A state’s decision to select such timetable will gain even more attention soon.

“Eighty percent of women don’t know they are pregnant until after six weeks,” she says.

“We know the Jackson, Mississippi, health center case in front of the Supreme Court, whether states have a right to determine viability is so important,” says Harvey. “The mood here is very somber in terms of people having access to abortion and autonomy over their own bodies.”

Yet PPOGO continues to play an important, vital part, in the healthcare of Ohioans. The Ohio Department of Health, notes Harvey, has approximately 300 locations around the state, but PPOGO’s 17 locations provide health services to “63 percent of people who request access to family planning,” says Harvey.

Because of government sanctions, Ohioans “have had an efficient provider forced out of the system which was not a good economic decision, certainly not a good health decision,” she adds.

Planned Parenthood can be reached at In Toledo, the health center is located at 1301 Jefferson and can be reached at 419-255-1115.