Founded by Margaret Sanger in 1942 (1941 if you’re being technical), Planned Parenthood has become an iconic representation of a sex-positive organization that promotes “a commonsense approach to women’s health and well-being, based on respect for each individual’s right to make informed, independent decisions about health, sex, and family planning.” Last week the U.S. House of Representatives voted to rob Planned Parenthood of $330 million in funding that would go toward preventative health services including contraception, cancer screenings, and a seemingly endless list of functions focused on sexual health. In a recent spate of proposed funding cuts for various organizations I keep asking myself “why does it matter?” “what are we losing?” “what’s at stake?” Here are the 3 most important things I think we stand to lose if the Senate decides to follow the House’s vote on Planned Parenthood’s funding;
- Affordable Healthcare – Have you ever needed a medical test but were too poor to afford it? Planned Parenthood has been a trailblazer in developing an efficient operating model that manages not only to give much-needed services such as anonymous & confidential STI/STD tests, HIV testing, Cancer screening, routine physical examinations…the list is endless. All of this with minimal cost to the client. Also, ‘affordable’ doesn’t just mean dollars to me. I’ve done extensive research on doctor-patient relationships and the reasons surrounding lack of doctor visits in specific communities (read: Women, People of Color, Youth, and LGBT folks) and participants have continuously named Planned Parenthood as an organization that provides consistently positive doctor-patient relationships. There are few other organizations that offer this level of ‘affordability’ to these communities.
- Comprehensive Sexual Health Education – I was lucky to live in a city (Cambridge, MA) where access to open & honest information about sex, sexuality, and sexual health were readily available. My high school provided these services without the threat of publicity, something that many U.S. communities lack. In countless locales Planned Parenthood provides this information in a consistent, non-judgmental, and sex-positive manner. Young people need these information outlets in order to arm themselves against sexual health risks, prevent unwanted pregnancies, and to develop a healthy sense of themselves as sexual beings. Abstinence-only education will not suffice.
- Dissemination of Free Contraceptives – I’ve previously written extensively about sex and sexual health making constant references to the condom use. Admittedly I have taken for granted my ease of access to this particular form of contraception. Any discussion (and practice) of sex is painfully lacking if preventive health measures are absent. In fact, eliminating people’s free access to contraceptive measures set the public discourse of sexual health back about 100 years. There are many other places that any person could get access to condoms, dental dams, etc. but these places are often linked to the funding that Planned Parenthood receives. Are you beginning to see how devastating this proposed slash in funding would be? What about birth-control pills? Morning After pills? IUDs? I shiver at the thought of a girl asking her Primary Care Physician (most likely paid by her parent’s insurance…if they’re fortunate enough to have insurance) for any of these alternatives.
Look, I understand that there are many legislators who do not like (much less support) Planned Parenthood and that’s okay with me. You do not have to like this organization to appreciate the gravity of the services they provide to people throughout the United States. It angers me to think about other government-funded companies and organizations (Halliburton, Enron, countless military contractors, etc.) that I and other legislators don’t like but refuse to take them to task and threaten their funding. As Representative Jackie Speier, D-California suggested,
“that would be irresponsible.”
Take a stand with me and Stand With Planned Parenthood because even if you have never personally accessed their services, I guarantee you that someone in your life has and is thankful for their existence.
Protect yourself and the people you love.
- House Votes to Stop Funding Planned Parenthood: What This Means for You (self.com)
- “Rep. Jackie Speier Stands Up For Planned Parenthood” and related posts (pushingrope.blogspot.com)
- House Passes Misguided Amendment To Defund Planned Parenthood (yubanet.com)