Planned Parenthood: Pardoned or Purged?

It doesn’t matter whether you’re male, female, or somewhere in between. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is or how old you are. It doesn’t matter what political party you represent or which religion you follow.

We are all human and we all wish to be healthy. That’s all that matters, right? To be able to live day after day, to laugh, to cry, to sing, to dance, to make relationships, and to have experiences. Living is one thing we all have in common, and the key to living is to be healthy.

So what happens when our healthcare, specifically sexual healthcare, is put on the line? What happens when we no longer have the ability to sing, dance, laugh, and cry? We lose the one thing that makes us human.

Unfortunately, we are now forced to face this “what if” scenario. We are about to lose Planned Parenthood healthcare.

Many are probably aware of the recent videos that have been released by the Center for Medical Progress (CMP), which feature unsettling footage of Planned Parenthood doctors haggling for fetal tissue prices, discussing various procedures, and describing their “specimen” quality. If you are unfamiliar with the videos, you can view them

The allegations in these videos question the morality and legality of Planned Parenthood and have led Republicans to draft a bill that eradicates all federal funds to the organization. Surely, those who have drafted the bill believe that their cause is just: they must act to annihilate this atrocious, inhumane organization responsible for taking so many innocent lives out of pure selfishness. Some supporters even go so far as to compare Planned Parenthood to the Nazi doctor, Julius Hallervorden, who used euthanized brains to perform neuro-research. To them, Planned Parenthood is abortion. To them, abortion is murder and those who commit murder should be put to death. Therefore, Planned Parenthood should die. But they’re wrong.

Those responsible for the bill fail to broaden their perspective and use a fisheye lens, revealing the true purpose of the organization. Planned Parenthood is far from an abortion clinic that caters to irresponsible women who just can’t keep their legs closed. Many fail to realize that Planned Parenthood provides sexual healthcare to both men and women and that abortions make up only 3% of the organization’s services. Not only does Planned Parenthood provide free contraception, but it also provides STD screenings, cancer screenings, and treatments for both. Planned Parenthood is not abortion; it is responsible sexual conduct.

To deny the atrocity of the information from the CMP videos would be both naïve and irresponsible. After all, we’re all human and hearing others talk so nonchalantly about such an invasive procedure will inevitably produce an emotional response. But this response should not be the sole factor in making a decision on the funding for Planned Parenthood. We need to address the facts as well.

These are the facts:

Those who represent Planned Parenthood claim to have done nothing illegal. The doctors who perform the procedures do not profit from donated fetuses. They are simply reimbursed for the procedure itself and any other services and handling that result from this procedure. Planned Parenthood is already forbidden to use any federal funded money to perform abortions, which make up only a small number of the services the organization offers.

So those are the facts and if one should be proven wrong, a re-evaluation of the situation is definitely in order. But if these facts are true, why should Planned Parenthood stop receiving funding? Because they perform abortions? Because they talk about fetal tissue like fishermen at an auction, trying to sell their largest catch? Because they made us upset?

But what about the bigger picture? What about Planned Parenthood as a whole?

Imagine a world without Planned Parenthood.

A young girl, Jamie, is only thirteen years old and likes a boy at school. Like many others, Jaime goes to a public school in one of 28 states that do not require sex education. She’s too shy to talk to her parents or teachers about sex, so birth control pills are out of the question. She doesn’t even know where he would put “it,” let alone the effects that could come from unsafe sex. All she knows is she likes Jimmy and Jimmy wants to “do it” before he commits to her. So where does she turn? To her friends of course. But her friends are not much more informed than she is and give her advice to “double bag it” or just “have him pull out” so she won’t get pregnant. The moment comes, but Jimmy doesn’t even have a condom; he was too embarrassed to buy one at the store. So where does that put Jaime and Jimmy? Both are thrust into a situation that could have serious repercussions that neither is prepared for. Yet despite their inexperience and lack of knowledge pushes, they continue. Everything could turn out fine, but what if it doesn’t? What if Jimmy or Jaime gets an STD? Since neither was mature enough to ask their parents for contraception, going to their parents for STD treatment would be impossible. The children may even decide to just ignore their symptoms, putting themselves in even graver danger. What if Jaime gets pregnant? She’s only thirteen; she has no idea how to raise a child. She can’t tell her parents; they’ll be so disappointed in her. Where can she turn? She heard her friend talking about someone she knew going to an underground abortion clinic. To Jaime, that seems to be her only option, but who is to say whether this clinic is safe and sanitary, or that those performing the procedure know what they’re doing? There was no Planned Parenthood to inform Jaime and Jimmy of the complications of sex or of how to participate in safe sex. There was no Planned Parenthood to scan for or treat STDs that may have been contracted during sex. There was no Planned Parenthood to provide Jaime with a list of her options and with safe medical care. There was no Planned Parenthood.

Now imagine a world with Planned Parenthood.

Jaime would be able to learn about and receive free birth control. She would know how to participate in safe sex and she would be able to understand the consequences of unsafe sex. Jimmy would have had a condom, since he wouldn’t have had to stand in front of the judging eyes of the drugstore salesman. Each would know what he or she was getting into and each would be able to make smart decisions. The couple may even have chosen to not have sex at all, after realizing they were not ready. Had either gotten an STD, they would be able to go to Planned Parenthood as soon as they noticed something was wrong. They could have gotten screened and treated for the STD before it had progressed into something more serious. Had Jaime gotten pregnant, she would be able to know all of her options and may even have decided to talk to her parents and continue with her pregnancy. If Jaime had decided to have an abortion, she would be able to have one done by an experienced doctor and in a room that complies with sanitary standards. She could even have chosen to donate her fetal tissue, in hopes to find solace in her difficult decision. In turn, this tissue could be used in medical research to discover new treatments and vaccines for fatal diseases, like it has for chicken pox, polio, and rubella.

The two scenarios are vastly different, yet each relies on the existence or absence of Planned Parenthood and the services it provides.

Like many young women, I have dreams and ambitions. I see myself earning a Master’s degree and a PhD and having a career that will take me around the world. Neither of these ambitions includes a family for many years. I am well aware of the consequences of unsafe sex and of my sexual health, in general. The reason I am so well informed is because of organizations like Planned Parenthood. They have provided me, as well as many others, with contraception and information. I know that if I need treatments or advice, I have somewhere to turn. Even more, if friends come to me with questions or sexual health concerns, I can confidently steer them towards safe, reliable healthcare, regardless of their gender. Planned Parenthood isn’t a quick fix for a bad decision; it is the foundation required to make responsible choices and to deal with obstacles as they come. Planned Parenthood is not abortion; it is responsible sexual conduct.

Therefore, I urge you to see beyond the veil that claims Planned Parenthood is morally corrupt because it performs abortions. I urge you not let your emotions rule your decision, but to look at the facts as well. Planned Parenthood is essential to maintaining a healthy sexual lifestyle. It allows us to keep singing, dancing, laughing, and crying. We need Planned Parenthood to continue to live, just as much as it needs us to survive.

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