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Connor Avery

WRTC 103
17 February 2016
Planned Parenthood and the power of perceptions
The topic of many a debate, Planned Parenthood is a major provider of women’s health
care. They supply contraceptives, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment to millions of
American women. Currently there are many people calling for the US government to defund the
non-for-profit, with their reasons ranging from the fact that Planned Parenthood provides
abortion services, to that community health centers will be able to handle the influx of women
who got their healthcare from Planned Parenthood. Articles and images both use rhetorical
strategies in order to convince people to their side of an argument. Although the rhetoric used by
Senator Harry Reid to defend continued federal funding has the same purpose as the included
PSA, Reid’s argument is far more effective than the PSA.
Senator Harry Reid’s stance on Planned Parenthood is that by proposing to defund
Planned Parenthood republicans are making an attempt to further limit women’s access to
healthcare. Although they argue that community health centers would take on the patients from
Planned Parenthood, there simply aren’t enough centers to handle the influx. Planned Parenthood
provides crucial health care for one in five American women (Reid 2). These women would
otherwise be unable to have access to needed procedures, and preventive methods such as
cervical exams and treatment for STDS. Defunding planned parenthood would limit access to
contraceptives, cancer screenings, and well-women visits. Planned Parenthood remains an
important health care service in the united states, and should receive continued funding.

Senator Reid has a strong level of ethos, coming from both his role as a member of the
senate, and through the use of quotes from other senators and reputable sources. Senator Reid
has been a member of the senate since 1986, he served in the Nevada State Assembly from 1969
till 1970, and is the current Senate Minority Leader. Reid quotes another senator to further
improve the ethos of his argument, quoting republican Senator Susan Collins on defunding
Planned Parenthood in order to bring an appeal to republicans in support of continued funding.
The quote he used was “The problem is, in my State and many others, Planned Parenthood is the
primary provider of women’s health services in certain parts of my State. So I don’t know how
you would ensure that all the patients of Planned Parenthood could be absorbed by alternative
care providers” (Reid, 3). Obviously the authority of senators is undeniable giving Reid’s
argument a great level of ethos.
Reid’s argument is also filled with facts to give it back bone. He brings to the attention of
the reader that “…in 2013: half a million women went to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer
screening, 400,000 women received a cervical exam from Planned Parenthood’s medical staff,
and 4.5 million treatments and tests for sexually transmitted diseases and infections were
performed” (1). These numbers strengthen his argument by showing just how effective Planned
Parenthood is, and the scope of how many people benefit from it. Reid also mentions that “One
in five American women will go to Planned Parenthood for services at some time during their
lives” (2). This is to highlight again just how many women rely on Planned Parenthood for their
healthcare. His final appeal that uses logos addresses how overwhelmed alternative care
providers would be if Planned Parenthood were to be defunded. Reid states that “…in Midland
County, Texas, there would have to be an increase of 537 percent by non-Planned Parenthood
clinics if Planned Parenthood is defunded. Lubbock County would see an increase of 250

percent. Community health centers cannot handle that, nor can they handle that increase in
heavily populated Dallas County, where it would be an almost 200 percent increase” (2). Reid’s
appeals to logos serve well towards his purpose.
Although Reid uses logos abundantly, he also uses pathos to adequately strengthen his
argument. His first appeal to sympathy occurs when he uses a quote from the Louisville CourierJournal to illustrate the importance of Planned Parenthood. “Sara Hall started going to Planned
Parenthood when she was in her late teens and need birth control, and she’s gotten care there
ever since…” (1). Full quote includes a quote from Sara about how she wouldn’t be able to get
medical care she needed anywhere else. His next pathetic appeal is short and straight to the point
saying “If women cannot go get health care from Planned Parenthood, where do they go?” (2).
The last major use of pathos that should be pointed out is his strongest. Reid plays on the
emotion and passion people have for protecting and helping their families by saying “It is our
responsibility in the Senate to ensure that American women have access to care. It is our
obligation to protect our wives, our sisters, our daughters, and our granddaughters from the
absurd policies of a Republican Party that has lost its moral compass” (3). As one can see Reid
effectively applies pathos to his argument.
Reid’s argument is effective because it appeals very strongly to ethos, logos, and pathos.
Reid’s argument is as unflawed as any argument can be. Reid uses logos and pathos in order to
convince those who want to defund Planned Parenthood, or those on the fence about it, to
continue federal funding of Planned Parenthood.

This PSA was made by a JMU
student for the purpose of
convincing people to continue
funding Planned Parenthood

The PSA, Keep Planned Parenthood Funded, was created in order to convince people that
Planned Parenthood should indeed remain funded. It addresses a few facts about Planned
Parenthood, and makes an emotional appeal in attempt to make up for a lack of ethos.
The author of the PSA attempts to establish ethos through the inclusion of a non-forprofit organization, the International Women’s Health Coalition, in order to help mask the
obvious lack of expertise he has on the subject. Although the author is well informed on the
argument to continue funding Planned Parenthood, his knowledge on the argument to defund
Planned Parenthood is minimal at best. This lack of knowledge leads to a very one-sided view of
the topic. The author also has a high level of bias about the topic as he considers himself a
feminist and believes in the protection of women’s rights, such as easy access to health care.
The author of the PSA, like Reid, uses statistics to develop logos in their argument. The
author states that “1 out of 5 American women go to a Planned Parenthood at some point in their
life. That’s around 31,885,705 women who won’t be able to get the health care they need if

Planned Parenthood is defunded”, getting this information both from Reid’s (2) argument and
using the Census bureau in addition to his own calculations. These statics help the audience to
see the scope of effect that Planned Parenthood has. Another example of logos used by the author
is the statement of services provided by Planned Parenthood such as provision of birth control,
and STD testing and treatment. The PSA may use logos, but it has less than the verbal article.
The author of the PSA also used pathos in order to sway the intended audience. Using a
photo of a young girl studying placed next to the silhouette of a pregnant girl, the author attempts
to make the suggestion that without Planned Parenthood teen pregnancy rates would increase.
The author then has two captions under the photos, one saying “What if she was YOUR
daughter?”, and the other saying “Don’t let inaccessible health care put her life off track. Keep
Planned Parenthood Funded”. The author puts a special emphasis on the word “your” in order to
make the reader feel more sympathy towards the girl in the photo, and to how Planned
Parenthood helps prevent teen pregnancy. Again the PSA was limited by space and has less
examples of pathos that the verbal article.
The PSA isn’t very effective because of its lack of ethos, and its appeals to logos and
pathos could use more strength behind them when compared to those of the verbal argument.
This being said the author’s argument had only one flaw, which was neglecting to acknowledge
the other side of the debate. The author uses logos and pathos to attempt to convince people to
continue funding Planned Parenthood much like Reid does in his argument. The PSA is similar
to Reid’s argument in that it makes the same sort of appeals to logos, but it also uses images to
help further its pathos. Reid’s argument is far more compelling because it has stronger examples
of ethos, logos, and pathos. Although Reid has an obvious bias on the topic it is obvious that he
has far more expertise on the subject than the author of the PSA. In the end it would seem that

although a PSA has the advantage of being able to use images to better its argument, a verbal
argument often will be more powerful because it will have more and better appeals to the forms
of rhetoric.

Works Cited
Mills, Amanda. Teenage Girl Reading Book. Public Domain. April 2015. Web. 21 Feb. 2016
Ernst, Honorable Joni, et al. "The Pros And Cons Of Federal Funding For Planned Parenthood."
Congressional Digest 94.8 (2015): 10. MAS Ultra - School Edition. Web. 19 Feb. 2016.
MarijoAH12. Cambios en una adolescente. 5 March 2015. Web. 21 Feb. 2016