Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Planned Parenthood

I have to say something that has been bothering me since last week. I feel like I am doing the world an injustice not speaking up. It all started when I saw the posts on Facebook from other LDS women about Planned Parenthood. They were pleas to petition politicians about refusing federal funding to Planned Parenthood. When I first saw it, I wanted to cry. I was so upset. Do you really know what you are asking? Do you know what those consequences would be?

Planned Parenthood has been around since 1942 and received federal funding since 1970, which was put into place by President Nixon. The types of services that are provided: birth control, emergency contraception, breast, cervical and testicular cancer screening, pregnancy testing, counseling, treatment for STDs, sexual education, menopause treatments, vasectomies, tubal ligations, and abortions.

I know that the last word is what causes members pause and cause for concern. So let us discuss and address this. In terms of their funding, there are laws that ban Planned Parenthood from using governement funds to pay for abortions. Abortions account for 3% of the services provided; however with over 820 clinics that does mean 332,278 abortions annually, which does make them the largest provider of abortions in the United States. I do not know if that is because people know they can go there to get one. I do not know.

The Church stated their position in March 1991: "We reaffirm that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has consistently opposed elective abortion.[...] The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as an institution has not favored or opposed specific legislative proposals or public demonstrations concerning abortion." They further state that to come out about laws is impractical--there are too many places the Church is at. Also, they state there are extenuating circumstances to abortion, notice the "elective" qualifier to abortion in the statement. Considering a very shaky number of 191,670 victims of rape or sexual assault reported in 2005 (under reporting, definitions called into question, etc.) that means we have no idea how many abortions are not actually elective for not only sexual assault reasons but also medical.
Let's talk about what else Planned Parenthood does in numbers. According to a 2008-2009 annual report and fact sheet, contraception constituted 35% of total services, STI/STD testing and treatment constituted 34%, cancer testing and screening constituted 17%; other women's health procedures, including pregnancy, prenatal, midlife, and infertility, were 11%. Those percentages include prenatal services to 7,021 clients and 977 adoption referrals to other agencies. The organization also said its doctors and nurses annually conduct 1 million screenings for cervical cancer, 830,000 breast exams and some 4 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted diseases.

Do you know that back in 1961 Planned Parenthood's actions sparked a Supreme Court case? Up until then, it was illegal in Connecticut to distribute contraceptives, even to married couples.While the church teaches that we should not put off having children and they are a blessing, the handbooks of the church state that it is between the couple and Heavenly Father. Good for Planned Parenthood for making that a reality.

We as a church know that sex before marriage is a sin. It is a serious sin. However, we also recognize that there are those who don't believe the same as the LDS church (which is a shock sometimes, wink wink). If we didn't, we would not have LDS Family Services which promotes adoption so that those who are not born under the covenant can gain the access to this saving ordinance and be sealed to an LDS family.

Are we willing to sacrifice free services to those who truly need---including cancer screening? Those important services are funded by the government (therefore our tax dollars). Are we willing to delude ourselves into thinking that if we take their funding they would go away, or at least not preform abortions---I doubt that would happen. Instead, because abortions are not government funded, we would lose those things that are like cancer screenings.

If Planned Parenthood is a safe space for a scared teenage girl after a rape, I believe in that. If Planned Parenthood educates those who stand in need, either about STDs or birth control, I believe in that. If Planned Parenthood lets someone catch breast cancer early because they lack health insurance, I believe in that. If someone who is poor receives free prenatal care, I believe in that. I believe in a place for women to go. Not all women are raised in supportive, loving homes. Not everyone has the gospel in their lives. Let them have a safe place.

**All data pulled from Wikipedia and a New York Times articles about Planned Parenthood funding. Statement from LDS Church copied from LDS.org.


Jenny Livingston said...

I know we talked about this already, but I also wanted to say it here on your blog, GREAT POST! You've included a lot of information that I think some people may be unaware of. I agree with so much of what you said and I think it's great that you had the guts to post your opinion!

kirsten.brooke said...

I haven't been getting the same vibe from fellow LDS friends via FB or wherever about doing away with Planned Parenthood, but I am with you 100%. It seems those that would do away with it are naive and stuck in a very small, selfish, self-serving bubble. There are those out there (as the statistics strongly show) that rely heavily on PP. Let's keep it that way!

Teresa said...

I hadn't really taken a stance one way or the other on the topic, but this is a really great and informative post. I definitely think people need to look at the whole picture and be educated before jumping to conclusions.

Heidi said...

Absolutely - people should jump off their uneducated band-wagon and get educated! Then - feel however you want - just don't speak and criticize out of ignorance...it's annoying :)

Ami, Joel, and Dane said...

You must have more right-leaning friends than me; I haven't seen any facebook activity about this at all, haha. But I did hear a story on the radio about it. I think you make great points. The radio story made me think I should look into if any local ones have jobs for me. Imagine announcing in Relief Society that I got a job at Planned Parenthood!

Rachelle said...

Well written. Thanks for sharing all those stats and the source. This articulates all of the feelings I have had on the issue. Its a really good connection you made between PP and Family Services, I had never thought of it that way. It is up to us to make sure we are supporting things that are helping those in need etc. In a perfect world we wouldn't need these type of things, but it aint perfect!

Sarita said...

Beautifully put. All other things aside, I believe in supporting a good cause that will empower people, in this case, woman, teach them responsibility and help them regardless of their circumstances so that their might be less abortions overall.

Merry said...

#1 - I love this post. Thank you for teaching me about this organization.

#2 - Thank you for your feedback on my electronic portfolio. Outside perspectives are so important for that kind of thing. And thanks for your compliments! Email me your address if you want my "prize" for participants.

Kaitlyn said...

Thank you for your post, Holly! I totally agree. In fact, if it weren't for Planned Parenthood, I don't know where Kyle and I would have gotten our birth control at or were I would have gotten my annual lady exams at =).They sell birth control to you based on your income and they saved us a lot of money that we didn't have. We can't afford insurance so it was really cool that they provide that service. I am grateful for this organization because they do a lot more good than harm =)