Last week, the House of Representatives voted to cut federal funding for PlannedParenthood. This was largely targeted at decreasing the organization’s ability to perform abortions. However, there will be a rippling effect if Planned Parenthood is unable to provide their general health care services. For women who suffer from health issues such as Endometriosis, cervical cancer, and fibroids, Planned Parenthood provides an affordable option for ongoing services and check-ups when the insurance companies and traditional health care providers are unwilling to cover medications or additional services. For example, when a relative, who suffers from Endometriosis, was in college her health plan would not cover the birth control medicine that was used to treat her illness. This was not about preventing pregnancy but about avoiding severe pain, bleeding and other symptoms associated with Endometriosis. She was able to receive affordable treatment because Planned Parenthood treats all women regardless of insurance policies or income.
I ran a youth based program that worked with high school students for several years. Teen pregnancy was a major concern and many young people, whether we wanted to talk about it or not, were and continue to be sexually active. Planned Parenthood provided a youth outreach program where other teens provided information to our students on abstinence, contraceptives and sexually transmitted infections. We saw a decrease in pregnancies after we started providing these workshops to our youth. Abstinence only education doesn’t work, (one only has to look at Bristol Palin as she holds her beautiful baby and shares how she was told to abstain but didn’t listen) information about all contraceptives and choices is what helps teenagers avoid pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections. We can continue to pretend our kids are not having sex because we don’t want to think about it. We can believe they will wait because they are good kids and we think they should. Or we can wake up and be grown ups and face the reality with our children. Planned Parenthood’s education and outreach services make it easier for schools, parents and teens to have these tough conversations.
Planned Parenthood is not just about abortion. It’s about HIV/AIDS testing. It is about basic care for the uninsured and underinsured. And it is about outreach and education, providing information to people about their reproductive and sexual health. You may not agree with abortion, but you don’t have to. You should agree with well women’s care for your daughter, HIV testing for your neighbor, diabetes supplies and testing for your aunt, and sex education for the young man that is taking your child to prom. Don’t let the House of Representatives eliminate all of these needed services in an effort to change abortion policy. Abortions will still happen. Unfortunately, because cuts in funding may mean a decrease in education services, more unplanned pregnancies may occur, which may lead to more abortions. If you want to decrease abortions, increase funding for sexual education and outreach. We should all be in favor of parenthood being something that is “Planned” not uninformed, unwanted and unintended.www.sisgigroup.org