Last week, Arizona asked the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to overturn a ruling that thwarted the state’s efforts to execute a law that would prevent public funding from going to health care organizations that perform abortions, namely Planned Parenthood.
Those who oppose abortion fought Planned Parenthood with rhetoric grounded in monetary and religious values, fearful of tax dollars funding organizations that perform acts one finds morally reprehensible. But how does this political system face up to the throngs of college students who remain sexually active — in spite of moral or religious objections?
Planned Parenthood and similar clinics provide health services that college students just shouldn’t have to live without.
Planned Parenthood, whose abortion services account for only 3 percent of its activities, has built a reputation for affordable, sympathetic and discreet reproductive care to youngsters either too poor to afford a traditional doctor’s visit or those who can’t talk to their parents about sex. Critics of Planned Parenthood don’t seem to understand that its patients wouldn’t be there if they had another place to go. If the Court ends up nipping public funds to Planned Parenthood, students will be scrambling to find an accessible place to find birth control, pap smears and STI/HIV tests, among a barrage of other health services and yes: even abortion.
Opponents of Planned Parenthood often paint women who receive abortions as irresponsible teenagers, promiscuous adolescents who regard abortion as a primary means of family planning. But cutting funding to Planned Parenthood would effectively cut preventative services: sex education for teens, teaching them how to have sex safely and responsibly, and birth control, preventing cases of unwanted pregnancies and consequently, abortions. In reality, 2009 figures denote that sexually transmitted diseases/infections account for 35 percent of services; contraception accounts for 35 percent; cancer screening and prevention for 16 percent; other health services at 10 percent.
The nearly 100-year-old organization has been tritely reduced to an abortion-provider service when it also provides cancer screenings and even general health services, such as physical exams, flu and tetanus vaccines and anemia testing. The argument against Planned Parenthood is about abortion, which is ironic considering that’s not what Planned Parenthood is about.
A visit to Planned Parenthood will indicate that its clinics are generally clean, occupied by nurses and employees who keep their voices down, mindful of patients’ privacy concerns. It caters to students’ inexperienced temperaments — twenty-somethings who often feel awkward talking about the ins and outs of sex to a health care professional for the first time.
At this point, abortion is still a legal option and thus, it remains a personal — not governmental — choice for couples. No matter the outcome of the court case that will be heard next year, students who engage in sexual activity can initiate the first step in family planning by discussing the possibility of unwanted pregnancies before disrobing.
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