On Feb. 10, the LBCC Students for Life club stood in the courtyard to state why they felt like the healthcare center Planned Parenthood is unnecessary. Planned Parenthood is the key healthcare source for millions of people within the United States and around the world, but despite its importance, lobbying is underway at the Senate level to defunded it.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that pregnancy rates amongst teenagers are at a record low (24.2 births for every 1,000 female teens). The government organization then goes on to state that this could be because more and more teens are choosing abstinence or using birth control. There are several forms of contraception for women to use rather than the traditional condoms and the pill. Even better, we live in something of a women’s healthcare state as women in Oregon can now get the day after pill through their pharmacy, and pharmacists can even prescribe birth control.
Women’s healthcare has made great strides in emphasizing the need for funding and availability to all women. A big part of Planned Parenthood’s services is providing affordable healthcare to lower-income individuals.
“As of 2012, 79 percent of people receiving services from Planned Parenthood lived at 150 percent of the federal poverty level or lower (that comes out to around $18,500 for a single adult), according to a March Government Accountability Office report,” reported the National Public Radio’s website.
Yet, despite all the work that’s been done in the name of women wanting to take care of their bodies, avoiding unwanted pregnancy, and observing their right to live freely, there’s been a series of people who reject this ideology with their belief that Planned Parenthood offers nothing outside of abortion services and is a waste of taxpayer money.
Additionally, Planned Parenthood acknowledges the basic reality that, as human beings, we have sex. Their facilities are often seen as a discrete way for teens to get birth control, should they want to be sexually active, or have other health problems they want to address. More access to birth control means less pregnancy; it’s that simple! Teaching kids about proper sexual health care means that there’s an even greater chance of people being wise about their approach to sex.
The Guttmacher Institute reports that “leading public health and medical professional organizations… support a comprehensive approach to educating young people about sex” and that,
“research suggests strategies that promote abstinence-only outside of marriage while withholding information about contraceptives do not stop or even delay sex. Moreover, abstinence-only programs can actually place young people at increased risk of pregnancy and STIs.”
Another thing that is overlooked by Planned Parenthood abolishers is the fact that their services are vast. The card that was handed out to students on the main campus and provided by the national Students for Life organization said that “Planned Parenthood facilities offer 7 services at most.” A quick Google search brought me to the Planned Parenthood website, and told me that this was far from the truth. Assuming we define “service” as “the action of helping or doing work for someone; a system supplying a public need,” PP provides at least 20 services that aren’t abortion.
As Bill Nye (the science guy) put in a famous viral video, “nobody likes abortions.” The more we seek birth control to avoid unwanted pregnancies, the more we can avoid this really touchy subject. (One that I personally wish would stay out of the hands of lawmakers.)
Planned Parenthood’s motto is “Care. No matter what.” This is an organization that doesn’t discriminate, treating everyone who walks through their doors equally. Planned Parenthood also employs people of different ethnicities, which one Latino volunteer in a Planned Parenthood video stated allows visitors of all walks of life feel more comfortable at the clinics. Some employees are even bilingual or trilingual.
The Pro Life Club passed out cards to students walking by, and on one side they had websites where people could go to for help. Listed in tiny san serif, they read: FindaHealthCenter.hrsa.gov, PregnantOnCampus.org, and OptionLine.org.
Find A Health Center was an excellent source for quickly locating centers by giving the website the name of the city and state, or by providing your zip code. Additionally, they also showed me centers that were within a five mile distance from the location that I provided.
Pregnant On Campus is a website ran through the Students For Life group, so it sort of felt like self-promotion. Although this organization serves all the major universities like Oregon State, University of Oregon, Portland State, Western Oregon, etc., it was concerning that they only offered the program at five community colleges, including Linn-Benton Community College. (Oregon has a total of 17 community colleges.)
But what really left a sour taste in my mouth was the Option Line. I curiously used their live chat service, and the resulting conversation was one that felt humiliating. My talking point (which I made up based on my real-life relationship) was that “I was looking to get birth control for me and my boyfriend of two years.” When she asked what my plans were for life, I told her my major and explained that my parents completely approved of our relationship and desires. When the lady I was talking with said that “no birth control is ever completely foolproof” and that “I have a great future ahead of me,” it felt insulting.
She didn’t help me with birth control, but shunned me for wanting to be a basic human being. I’m 19 years old, a legal adult. I reserve the right to take care of my body, and with that comes doctor’s appointments and getting prescriptions for birth control.
Not only did I feel humiliated, but I felt like their advice was blatantly wrong. My gynecologist, who has decades of experience to her name, explicitly told me the safest way to have sex is doubling up on protection. In other words, myself and my partner should use a condom along with the birth control pill.
So what gives? I can’t stress enough that sex should be a natural part of life. The human body is beautiful, and it’s your choice if you want to show a little skin or save it for your partner.
And in treating sex as normality, we then are opened up to the opportunity to properly educate. Sex in my school, under the teachers that taught my wellness classes, was never shunned; instead, we were simply taught that abstinence is the only way to not get pregnant or receive an STD.
So I implore that instead of these harsh statements of “we don’t need Planned Parenthood,” we counteract them with love. With care. Have they ever been inside a Planned Parenthood before? I personally have not, but it’s been on my agenda for quite sometime, so I can thank the caregivers. And for those who haven’t used a Planned Parenthood facility, I am very thankful to hear that you have had the privilege to never need the use of their facilities.
But for those who have for any reason, I stand with you. Your wellness and rights are far more important than any law that tries to ban them from you. And while it’s perfectly okay to be against abortion, being against such a prominent provider of women’s healthcare, whose goal is to seek out alternatives to abortions in the first place, isn’t.
Column by Morgan Connelly