By Amelia Apgar '20
There’s a growing debate over Planned Parenthood in the United States. Millions of people support defunding the organization, and many want to see it shut down entirely. But why? Unfortunately, many Americans are extremely uninformed about the organization and its practices, yet they still denounce it. In reality, Planned Parenthood is one of the predominant organizations providing realistically affordable healthcare to women, men, young adults, and really anybody who needs it.
Much of Planned Parenthood’s work is preventative. They focus most of their efforts on providing information regarding health concerns, safety, and education. Contrary to popular belief, their educational efforts do focus on abstinence--but they also respect an individual's right to make his or her own decisions. Planned Parenthood is the largest provider of sex education, having reached over 1.5 million teens and parents in 2014 alone. Their goal? To make sure that everyone, regardless of background, has the right information to make only the best choices and that they have access to the proper supplies to stay safe and healthy.
In addition to providing care for women, Planned Parenthood has also expanded its health care initiatives for LGBTQ+ patients. PP affiliates in 26 centers across the country now offer hormone treatments for transgender patients. Many centers also offer programs that serve as safe spaces for LGBTQ+ youth and allies. In addition, Planned Parenthood works tirelessly to combat the stigma around sex and sexuality in the media and pop culture. Working closely with celebrities, magazines, television shows, movies, networks, and musicians, Planned Parenthood has given accurate, genuine, open, and judgement-free information to take a huge step forward in recreating the societal narrative surrounding such sensitive and stigmatized topics.
Although Planned Parenthood is often thought to be synonymous with abortion, the reality of that comparison could not be further from the truth. In fact, only 3% of the organization’s total services were abortions in 2014. The majority of services, 45% of the total, were STI/STD testing and treatments--completely unrelated to abortion! As for the rest of the data, 31% of services were contraception related, 13% were other women’s health services (like prenatal care and adoption referrals), and 7% were cancer screenings and prevention.
According to the Hyde Amendment and Title X, Planned Parenthood legally cannot spend any federal funding on abortion services except in the case of rape, incest, or saving the life of the mother. Various studies and lawsuits across the country have shown that no Planned Parenthood center has ever violated this law. Instead, Planned Parenthood spends their government funding on preventative measures, educational resources, contraceptive services, and research. They spend much of their efforts trying to prevent unwanted pregnancies, aiming to decrease the need for an abortion at the end of the day. By defunding PP, lawmakers are not decreasing abortions--they’re actually only limiting the educational resources and contraceptive measures that would prevent abortions in the first place!
After extensively researching the facts and figures of Planned Parenthood, it couldn’t be more obvious that the work they do is clearly for the benefit and well-being of society. They provide access to education and resources for many low-income women and families, many of whom are minorities. They screen for and treat both STIs/STDs and cancer. They offer prenatal care for women who are carrying their baby to term. Planned Parenthood is at the forefront of many research studies working to better the health care system, making it more accessible and technologically up to date. The organization even works closely with prominent people and their work in society to create a more open and inclusive world. At the end of the day, Planned Parenthood truly is a compassionate organization that serves to better our communities and create better, brighter futures for our women and girls of every age, color, and socioeconomic status.