The Rose City Resource is a helpful, pocket-size guide published by Street Roots that lists services available to low-income people around Portland. Among its list of healthcare providers, the guide lists Planned Parenthood, an organization you may have heard of that provides reproductive healthcare, breast cancer exams, birth control, and abortion services to 60,000 Oregonians a year.
But because it lists this healthcare provider, another Portland healthcare provider—the Catholic-run Providence Health and Services—is refusing to let Street Roots distribute the guide in their hospital lobbies. As Street Roots first reported on their Facebook page and then picked up by the Oregonian, between 400-1,200 copies of the resource guide have been distributed in Providence for years. This year, someone within Providence raised a complaint that the guide listed an abortion provider and Providence decided to yank the guide.
This isn't the first time Street Roots has experienced a Catholic backlash for listing Planned Parenthood in the guide. In 2010, the Catholic Campaign for Human Rights pulled thousands of dollars in funding from Street Roots for listing Planned Parenthood in the resource guide. Providence commented on the issue in a statement: "When an apparent conflict was discovered (specifically concerning abortion services), we reviewed it and determined that we would not be able to distribute the guide."
To its immense credit, Street Roots is standing its ground. There is zero chance the homeless-advocacy newspaper will pull Planned Parenthood from its guide because of the loss of Catholic support.
"There's no question that Planned Parenthood is providing a service for people experiencing poverty in our community, regardless of the politics around it," says Street Roots publisher Israel Bayer. "Saying that, we're trying to provide a platform for information. There are multiple religious organization that provide food boxes or shelter listed in the guide. We don't have a political or religious stance on the services that are being provided to people."
That's exactly the point—healthcare organizations, especially, should recognize Planned Parenthood as a highly effective healthcare provider. Although five percent of their work in Oregon is providing a service to which Catholics object, pulling support from the resource guide hypothetically hinders needy Portlanders' knowledge of where to find numerous essential services, in Planned Parenthood or in any of the other organizations listed in the guide's 104 pages.
Meanwhile, anyone who wants a copy of the guide can grab one from Street Roots' office. The paper prints 100,000 copies of the guide annually, at a cost of $40,000, so just FYI, you can also donate to the guide online.