Barefoot: Planned Parenthood offers more than abortions


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Although Planned Parenthood offers abortions, it also provides cancer screenings, fertility testing and other services. However, these services are often overshadowed by the abortion controversy.

The House of Representatives recently voted to bar Planned Parenthood from federal funding. I am scratching my head wondering how this could happen. I am used to people protesting against Planned Parenthood, but to go as far as defunding them seems a bit outrageous.

Yes, they perform abortions, but they do so many other things that deserve funding, and it’s these other things that get overlooked.

Among the activities that Planned Parenthood does for low cost to free are breast, prostate, colon and cervical cancer screenings, UTI treatment, jock itch treatment, STI and pregnancy screening. They do male and female infertility testing and refer you to health centers in the area to help you get pregnant. That’s right – HELP you get pregnant. Planned Parenthood means planning both ways. Some do flu vaccines, physical exams and cholesterol checks.

But you hardly ever hear about those aspects of what they do. It’s all about the abortions.

One of the benefits of Planned Parenthood is its low cost. Some students don’t have insurance, and anyone can tell you that going to the hospital is expensive. Expensive to the point where people won’t go unless they know something is wrong, like their arm is falling off. Planned Parenthood offers health care at a rate you can afford – it’s not always free, but based on what you can pay.

A Pap smear without insurance can range from $50 to $200 at a clinic. Without Planned Parenthood, how many students will willingly give their grocery money to get a Pap smear or STI testing? Testing that could help them treat the infections before they lead to more serious issues like infertility or kidney failure – which can happen with gonorrhea – not to mention let them know they have the infection before they spread it to more people unknowingly.

Unlike some of the pregnancy crisis centers, which usually only focus on pregnancy, Planned Parenthood has certified doctors and nurses, people who are trained to deal with the people who walk in their door. More than five million people have walked through their door looking for advice, answers and treatment. Five million men and women every year utilize Planned Parenthood services.

Also it is important to note that 79 percent of their clients are older than 20, breaking down the idea that the majority of their clients are teens who grab the condoms and walk out without another word, or go in there using abortions as their birth control.

And yes they deal with sex, but it’s just not condoms and birth control. In a country where the predominate form of sex education is abstinence only, but is shown as a fact of life in the teen media, Planned Parenthood is a voice to answer questions no matter how stupid the questions may be. They won’t lie or avoid the questions when you ask them. This is more than my high school health teacher did when my class asked her questions.

They are more reliable than some of the websites you can Google for advice, and without the snarky answer either. More than one million students receive education programs through Planned Parenthood, education they might not get at home or from their friends. 83 percent of Planned Parenthood’s centers focus on stopping pregnancy before it happens, with condoms and knowledge. Only three percent is abortion-based, and not all centers even perform abortions.

Not only that, they offer safe sex advice to gays and lesbians, which goes beyond a lot of health advice in schools, who seem to believe sex can only happen with a penis. It could be hard for a parent to have the sex talk with their gay or lesbian child if they don’t even know how to have safe sex if it isn’t heterosexual. Or maybe these teens haven’t told their parents yet that they are gay. They can go to Planned Parenthood for advice on dental dams or other protection. But of course, many people against Planned Parenthood are also against homosexuals, so maybe that is just another reason to defund them.

Yes, many people against Planned Parenthood say if we take away sex, we will stop unwanted pregnancies, STIs and abortions. Logic tells me that hasn’t worked in the past, and it sure as heck won’t help us now. Teen have always had sex, and they will continue to have it, might as well give them the education and the tools to do it safely. Besides, giving them the knowledge doesn’t mean as soon as they walk out of the classroom they are going to go home and have sex.

If we ignore the fact that teens have sex, or tell them it is a sin if they do it before marriage, I doubt teens will magically decide not have sex. Not everyone believes sex outside of marriage is a bad thing, or adheres to programs that follow religious backing for abstinence only.

Without Planned Parenthood, teens will still do it, but will they have the information to do it correctly? By defunding the health centers, I am betting that STI rates and pregnancy will go up. Not that that is saying much, considering the United States has the highest teen pregnancy rates among the world’s developed nations. Or the fact that according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 3 million teen girls have a sexually transmitted infection.

Without funding to birth control, aren’t teen pregnancy and abortion rates going to go up? And isn’t that exactly what defunding Planned Parenthood was supposed to do – make the rates go down?

Yes, some argue that because they perform abortions, all the other good things like education and testing should be looked over. Do we do that to hospitals? Hospitals perform abortions too, but we never seem to talk about that. Do we say they are horrible people even though they perform vasectomies or pull the plug on coma patients, or do we understand that they are helping people, even though we don’t always agree with their decisions?

One in five women will use Planned Parenthood in their lifetime. It could be your mom, your friend or your partner. I stand for Planned Parenthood because I know that all of their services are important, even the ones people ignore.