Growing national fears such as the ever-unstable Middle East conflict and terrorist threats have dominated the national spotlight. However, now that the United States is facing over a trillion dollars in debt, all national funded programs are up for the guillotine, with the most controversial taking the front of the line. The argument of pro-life versus pro-choice has been placed on the back burner for the last few years, nonetheless the often-heated issue of government funding used for Planned Parenthood has reared its head again in recent weeks.
Like any sensitive issue, funding for reproductive education is not black and white. Pro-life or anti-Planned Parenthood demonstrators often place their views in faith-based, pro-family categories. Families Against Planned Parenthood actually states on its site:
“When Planned Parenthood shows up in town, young people are lured into dangerous sexual behavior. As Planned Parenthood’s Teen Wire website shows, Planned Parenthood has no respect for family values and encourages teens to engage in risky, unhealthy sexual behavior. Planned Parenthood drives a wedge between parents and their children (Families).”
STOPP international, a section of ALL (American Life league), supports the shutdown of Planned Parenthood for not only abortions that may be performed but also for teaching contraceptive and birth control uses (STOPP). Many anti-Planned Parenthood sites offer reference materials. “The birth rate collapse” is one such material used to explain some of the reasons for their beliefs (STOPP). “The birth rate collapse,” is a particular reference material used by STOPP that is based on the book The Biggest Challenge of the 21st Century by Peter F. Drucker. Although the author is regarded as “The Man Who Invented Management” (Byrne and Gerdes), It is doubtful that managing our reproductive health, over population, and unemployment rates were some of his many areas of expertise. STOPP disregards this fact and uses excerpts from this book and other news articles to promote higher birth rates to in turn demolish the use of Planned Parenthood.
When trying to determine if the nation is currently suffering from a decline in the birth rate, it is important to consider current statistics. One such statistic is California’s unemployment rate, reported by the Employment Development Department of California on January, 21 2011 the state unemployment rate has risen to 12.5 percent. Our unemployment rate is not just a California issue. Nationally there have been jobs lost in record numbers in the last few years. Another statistic to consider is the U.S. population figures. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the current U.S. population is a staggering “311,239,471 million people, with one birth every eight seconds.” With a growing unemployment rate and population increase, how can we properly care for our current population, let alone increase it, by discontinuing reproductive education? Even though “Fast Facts” from The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy shows that, “Teen birth rates have decreased to 41.5 per 1000,” this is still a large number of unplanned pregnancies that could be prevented with education.
Planned Parenthood is helping young adults by offering them resources to be properly informed about all the areas of their reproductive health. Along with parents and mentors, Planned Parenthood is helping to guide the youth of today in understanding all the choices that are available in regards to reproductive health, whether it is reproductive health, birth control, unplanned pregnancies, or even healthy living. Planned Parenthoods nationwide have been working towards creating a safe and knowledgeable place for those in need.
Our local Six Rivers Planned Parenthood has been working to create this environment for the people of the north coast since 1975 (Planned Parenthood). Six Rivers Planned Parenthood began helping our youth become knowledgeable in 1977 by teaching, “a five to 15 day family life sex education course in local high schools” (Planned Parenthood). Currently Planned Parenthood offers numerous resources to those who are in need. Planned Parenthood is a place where both male and female patients can come to learn about proper birth control methods, be tested for STDs/STIs, to have cancer screenings performed, and receive many other services in regards to reproductive health.
According to Jermaine Brubaker, Six Rivers Planned Parenthood’s Medical Outreach Coordinator, “Planned Parenthoods are often the first people called when someone is dealing with a health issue. We receive calls asking questions about everything from breast cancer to infertility.” Even when asked about areas that they do not deal with, they are knowledgeable enough to refer people to the correct field to get proper care. The people in charge of dispensing information are all caring individuals who have been trained to help in any way they can. “Through in house regulations and training, the people in charge of handling the public on a day-to-day basis are very well informed and ready to help” (Brubaker).
Most recently the education and services from Planned Parenthood have been threatened by the national budget crisis. Our nation’s deficit has promoted action in the form of financial cuts to many of our needed programs. One of the many programs that have recently been on the chopping block is Title X, “the only federal grant program dedicated solely to providing individuals with comprehensive family planning and related preventive health services” (United States Dept. of Health).
Over the past 40 years, Title X family planning clinics have played a critical role in ensuring access to a broad range of family planning and related preventive health services for millions of low-income or uninsured individuals and others. In addition to contraceptive services and related counseling, Title X-supported clinics provide a number of related preventive health services such as: patient education and counseling; breast and pelvic examinations; breast and cervical cancer screening according to nationally recognized standards of care; sexually transmitted disease (STD) and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) prevention education, counseling, testing and referral; and pregnancy diagnosis and counseling. By law, Title X funds may not be used in programs where abortion is a method of family planning (United States Dept. of Health).
Cutting the Title X funding will limit reproductive health care received. Beyond teen pregnancy education and prevention, Planned Parenthood uses this money to help with cancer prevention, STD/STI detection, reproductive health, and education. Cord Jefferson, senior editor of Good Politics, uses the following chart to show what care Planned Parenthood is offering to its patients:
Without these services, it stands to reason that our nation could see a boom in unplanned pregnancies, higher STD/STI rates, and higher rates of preventable cancers within our communities. This increase then could put more of an economic burden on the nations already over abundant debt. Teaching our youth and practicing responsible sexual practices is the only way to help prevent this very gray situation from putting our nation even more in the red.
To help our local Six Rivers Planned Parenthood, contact your congressperson and let them know that the money spent on Title X is worth every penny for our future.
Ashlie Crews is a local wife and mother who attends College of the Redwoods.