Dear Future President,
Ever since 1916, when Margaret Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in America, and was arrested 9 days later, America and its citizens have fought against women’s rights to health care. Women’s health has always been a big part of my life because of my mother's activism in Hawaii in the 90’s, but today as a young woman who has come to need some of the services they offer, it is shocking that government officials want to defund Planned Parenthood. According to the organization’s website, it helped 2.5 million people in the US gain access to reproductive health care last year alone. Planned Parenthood should remain funded because it provides people with essential disease screening and prevention like breast exams and STD testing, educates youth, gives women access to contraception, and gives women more choices when it comes to unintended or unwanted pregnancies.
People against the non-profit like to focus on abortions when discussing Planned Parenthood, but their most used service is disease screening and prevention. In Planned Parenthood’s 2014-2015 annual report, it states that 52% of services that they provide include exams for breast and cervical cancer and STD testing; most popular of which are tests for HPV and HIV. Last year 171,882 STDs were diagnosed with the help of Planned Parenthood. Early diagnosis of STDs is crucial in their treatment and allows the person diagnosed to seek treatment in order to manage it and then prevent the spread of the disease.
Another one of Planned Parenthood's essential services is sexual education. STOPP, a Christian organization who wants PP to be defunded, defines comprehensive sex education as “promoting pornographic, obscene material to children in order to desensitize them into living promiscuous lives.” When people demonize comprehensive sex ed like this, it prevents others from learning the truth. The organization Advocates for Youth provides actual evidence that shows that comprehensive sex ed delays the first time children have sex, has decreased the number of youth HIV cases and increases the use of condoms. Planned Parenthood states in their most recent annual report, that it is the largest provider of sex ed in the country and educates 1.5 million children and parents every year. Defunding a provider of such a necessary aspect in sexual health would have its consequences. If we take away what is making youth STD rates go down and what is influencing teens to use condoms, the negative effects outweigh the positive.
According the the Planned Parenthood website, 31% of the services they provide involve contraception. Last year 2,009,207 women were helped to get reversible contraceptives. Many religions are against the use of contraceptives and don't see birth control as more than a way not to get pregnant. Sure, most of the use goes towards pregnancy prevention, but people like myself with health concerns use it as a way to live a more comfortable life. I have endometriosis which means my uterine lining (what is shed during menstruation) grows outside of the uterus. This is not meant to happen and used to cause me near-constant pain. I was unable to exercise or even remain mobile for extended periods of time. Now that I have started using an oral contraceptive, I am able to live the life I want to live. Although I take birth control for medical reasons, many women simply wish not to become pregnant. It is estimated that last year 578,681 pregnancies were averted with the help of Planned Parenthood services (plannedparenthood.org). Defunding Planned Parenthood would take away the health benefits that come with birth control, and many women who don’t want to become pregnant, will.
Abortion is one of the most controversial services that Planned Parenthood provides. Many anti-abortion organizations like National Right to Life, claim that abortion is only acceptable in situations of rape, incest, and when the mother's life is in danger. In a survey done by Lawrence B. Finer, the VP of domestic research at the Guttmacher Institute, women gave the reasons they had for getting an abortion: 25% of women said they were not ready for a (or another) child and that the timing was bad, 23% said that they couldn’t afford a child, 19% said that they have “completed their childbearing” or have other people depending on them, other reasons under 10% included not wanting to be a single mother, not mature enough or too young, that it would interfere with education, health problems, and that they were the victim of rape. I think all of these reasons are valid reasons to end a pregnancy. The Palo Alto Medical foundation says that most abortions are done within the first trimester and are almost never done in the third trimester unless there is a problem with the child or the mother is at risk medically. Abortion only makes up 3% of Planned Parenthood's services. According to their annual report, PP performed 323,999 abortions on women who made a very personal choice to do so. I think that politicians (especially male ones) should not help decide one of the most personal decisions a woman can make.
Planned parenthood should remain funded because it provides essential services to women who need them, and allows for a woman to choose the path of her life. No woman should be forced to have a child she doesn’t want or can’t take care of. Additionally, I think it is closed-minded to want to shut down an entire organization because you are against 3% of its services. Planned Parenthood has prevented so many pregnancies with its contraceptive services and has helped so many people by screening and diagnosing both STDs and cancer. If you, the future president of the United States, decides to defund Planned Parenthood, you will be taking away women’s access to important information, sexual health care and above all, a woman's right to have control over her body and control of her life.