My Thoughts on Planned Parenthood

You’re going to have to forgive me. You see, I’ve blogged myself in a corner by regaling tales of awkward adolescence and bad first dates, but sometimes I want to write about more serious matters. Sometimes, I just want to speak my mind about controversial political issues, but you don’t like that. At least, many of you don’t; however, I’ve seen a plethora of posts on FB and twitter regarding the defunding of the organization Planned Parenthood, and I’d like to throw in my two cents. Trust me, there are many more bad first dates to blog about in the future, so just bear with me.

I recently read a quote from journalist, Chris Hedges regarding the current state of journalism: ““With the death of newsprint, we’re losing a whole cadre of people who are trained to go out, report stories, have them fact-checked, publish them. The end result was to build a public discussion around verifiable fact. When we lose those skills of reporting, all discussion becomes — from the left, from the right — emotionally driven. Verifiable fact no longer becomes the foundation of public discourse.”
I filed that quote away, and it just sprang to my mind when I read some articles regarding an interview with Bill O’Reilly (for the sake of this discussion, I’ll forgo the debate about what hours Fox News is actually considered news) and a former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas, Abby Johnson. The main points that bothered me (and bothers me about most biased media presentations) were the subjective unsupported claims she made, primarily that PP encourages abortion to increase their revenue and that they provide low quality care. It also bothered me to learn that Live Action, the very organization working to destroy PP, gainfully employs her. Yeah, that sounds completely fair and balanced. Now before I continue with my official position, here are some facts I discovered after a little Internet research:

Based on the annual report for the 2009 fiscal year, PP received around one billion dollars in revenue with 37% coming from medical services and 33% coming from government funding. If you look closer at the medical services provided, you’ll find that only 3% were abortion services with the leading services provided being STD testing/treatment, contraception, and cancer screening/prevention (total of 86% of services rendered). It should also be noted that the Hyde Amendment bars the use of federal funding for the purposes of abortion, so rest assured that 33% of revenue is being used elsewhere. Currently 75% of the people who use PP are at or below 150% of the poverty level, so this all begs the question: “what is to be gained by the recent bill that would in effect completely remove federal funding from Planned Parenthood?”
I’ve come up with a few viewpoints that are diametrically opposed to the institution that is Planned Parenthood.

1. Planned Parenthood is pro-abortion, and since I think abortion is wrong, so then is Planned Parenthood.
Currently, in the USA, abortion is legal. While that might upset many, PP is not responsible for making decisions for people. They simply present people with their legal options. I would argue that you are running the risk of an increase in abortion by removing contraception and sex education to those that need it, but can’t afford it. Stopping an organization whose abortion services only account for 3% of all services rendered, hardly sounds like winning a big battle in the ProLife war. There are other, more effective ways of doing that (I, personally, am a big proponent of education). Also, can someone please find me someone who went to PP wanting to keep her baby but were instead persuaded otherwise? With only a 6% profit margin, they are hardly the profit-seeking abortion-mongers they are being made out to be. Stop referring to them as the leaders in the abortion industry—it’s just misleading.

2. Planned Parenthood openly advises and encourages human sex trafficking.
Did we learn nothing from watching Michael Moore documentaries? Anything can be edited in such a way as to prove a point. The Live Action videos accomplished little because they left out the key information: that almost every person that encountered the undercover “pimps” reported them to the FBI for investigation; further, it was discovered to be a hoax long before the videos were released. But you don’t see O’Reilly mentioning those small details because it doesn’t fit into the narrative. It should also be noted that the egregious mistakes made by the worker in New Jersey were handled correctly: that woman was fired.

3. The federal deficit is far too large—harsh cuts must be made.
Ok, I can respect this stance to a point, but I also think in this current economic climate, it is not beneficial to cut more jobs and make it harder for low-income women to find reasonably priced reproductive health care. Also, if this truly is your ONLY stance, then I expect to see celebratory comments about you dancing on the graves of NPR and PBS as well.

This is just another example of how media bias is playing such a crucial role in our political landscape, and it is disheartening to see people swallow opinions without bothering to check the facts.

Now, here’s where I’m probably going to ruffle some feathers. The heart of this issue usually comes back to the pro-life/pro-choice debate or the debate on the role of sex education. This organization is not seeking to secure more abortions for profit–they are here to provide education and health services to anybody who might need them. Here’s my personal opinion and perspective: I am 27 years old, and I believe in God. My faith dictates to me that abortion is the wrong choice, but it also led me to the decision to practice abstinence until I am married (yes, folks, I walk a lonely road in Manhattan). I came to that very informed decision years ago in the presence of several options—I did not need the government to make that decision for me. I also respect the fact that several Americans do not share the same faith as me (or any faith at all), so it presumptuous of me to impose my standards of living with regards to sex on everyone else in the country. Contrary to whether you think it is right or wrong, people are having lots of sex, and if they’re going to continue to do so, I believe proper contraception and STD treatment should be available to them. If you want to make a difference in terms of abortion rates and sexual abstinence, then teach those things to your children. Engage in healthy discussions in your local community. Help educate people so that they, too, will have the freedom to make informed decisions. Also, treat the topic of abortion with a high degree of sensitivity. No one enters into abortion lightly, and having known people very close to me who have gone down that painful path, I know they wouldn’t wish it on their worst enemy. As someone who is opposed to abortion as any form of birth control, if someone asked me for advice, I’d tell them not to do it, but I would do it compassionately without any protest signs, shouting matches or judgment. It’s easy to get swept away in political rhetoric and not think of the many individuals who will be affected by the passing of this bill. It upsets me to think of how many abortions are practiced each year, but it also upsets me to see those dead children used as political leverage. And that is why I am standing alongside Planned Parenthood.

If you happen to agree with me, here’s a way you can show your support:
Stand with Planned Parenthood

Sites referenced:

P.S. If you’d like to engage in a civilized, well-behaved discussion on this matter, feel free to comment, but no funny business, ok?