Mike the Mad Biologist

Why Planned Parenthood Matters to Me

You might have heard of by now rightwing activist Lila Rose’s attempted sting operation of Planned Parenthood, which resulted in the shocking finding that Planned Parenthood workers follow the law (and don’t endanger themselves or their patients by physically confronting potentially dangerous people). Suffice it to say, it was a bullshit smear, but that’s not stopping Planned Parenthood from catching flak. I have a personal reason for supporting Planned Parenthood (no, I’m not coming out of the closet or announcing that I am HIV-positive)–but, first, here’s the breakdown of what Planned Parenthood actually does (data from 2008; pdf):

plantparenthood2008

I want to talk about that yellow-green sector, STD testing.

For the younger readers–and by younger, I mean those in their twenties–it’s hard to describe the AIDS-related paranoia of the late eighties and early nineties; the discrimination and hysteria towards Ryan White was still very fresh (kids, read this, then come on back). I’ll also throw into the mix that insurance companies have always been cheapskate bastards. So, if you were sexually active and did the responsible thing by getting regularly tested for STDs, you definitely didn’t want your insurance company knowing about it, especially if you were an unmarried male with a college degree and a low BMI in the Northeast*. Healthcare isn’t cheap to begin, especially when you’re a graduate student or post-doc.

Thankfully, Planned Parenthood provided–and still provides–cheap (or, if you need it, often free) STD testing. And it’s very confidential: to get your results, you went to the office and get them. You received a version of the results to take with you; literally, a clean bill of health to show your partner if you desired. No messages left on the answering machine for roommates to intercept (back then, that’s what we used. And they had cassette tapes too!).

As I’ve often said around these parts, the best way to deal with an infectious disease is to not get it in the first place. STD testing is critical.

Dana Goldstein also provides some more reasons to support Planned Parenthood.

So go help them all of us. And possibly you or someone you know.

*Stereotyping? Absolutely. But the political climate surrounding HIV and gay rights was insane back then in all but the most liberal strongholds.

Comments

  1. #1 Tracey S.
    February 14, 2011

    Well said! I am, broadly speaking, “Pro-life”, however I think Planned Parenthood is a vital resource to women. When I was without health care it was the only place I could go to get contraception, medical exams, and cancer screenings that I could afford. Everyone there was kind and supportive, and nothing in the office suggested a focus on abortion. In fact there were quite a few informative posters about adoption and help for young mothers.

    I think a lot of rabid pro-lifers see planned parenthood as evil abortion factories, when in reality most of what they do is provide quality, affordable women’s health services and are staffed mainly by people who really care about women AND babies. In the long run, having access to care and contraception is MINIMIZES abortions and make sure the ones that do happen are safe.

    It is tempting to make this a black and white issue and demonize the other side, but in reality most pro-choicers don’t hate babies and God, and most pro-lifers don’t want to oppress women. The vast majority of people on BOTH sides are reasonable and compassionate human beings who want to help people, but just disagree about the best way to go about it. We need to cut past the extremist loudmouths on both sides and support programs of all kinds that really make a difference where it counts.

  2. #2 Calli Arcale
    February 14, 2011

    Thank you, Tracey, for saying that! You need to share that view as much as possible, because too many people have the wrong idea about Planned Parenthood — and about the “other side” (whichever that may be) in the abortion debate. Bless you.

    And bless you too, Mike, for this post. I hope a lot of people read it. Planned Parenthood is a vital resource in a country which doesn’t seem to give a darn about women’s health care unless they happen to be wealthy women. (IOW, it’s a woman’s responsibility to get health care, and if she can’t, then that’s her problem.)

    There was an attack on a Planned Parenthood office in northern Minnesota a few years back, by an anti-abortion “protester” (I use the term loosely; jackass would probably be more apt). He drove his car into the waiting room. Luckily, it was closed at the time, so nobody got hurt. But the big irony was that this particular office didn’t perform abortions and was the *ONLY* source of prenatal health care for indigent women for miles and miles. So pregnant women, who wanted to keep their babies, who were doing the responsible thing in his eyes, were the real victims.

    It seems we as a society would much rather shout at one another than actually solve the problems that need solving, and I think Tracey S. has it right.

  3. #3 Phoebe Fay
    February 14, 2011

    Agreed. When I was without health insurance, Planned Parenthood was there for me, providing low-cost physical exams and birth control. When I was divorced and returning to scary world of dating, Planned Parenthood was there to offer affordable and confidential testing for STDs.

    I’m so glad they’re there for all the women and girls who don’t have other options or who need confidentiality to stay safe. And yes, I’m glad they offer the option of abortion because there are times when abortion is the right choice. I trust women to make those choices for themselves, and I’m glad Planned Parenthood does, too.

  4. #4 Ms. Elise
    February 14, 2011

    In addition to the actions suggested here, there’s a twitter campaign to spread the stories of all the people Planned Parenthood has helped. #thanksppfa is the hashtag. Join in and tell your story!

  5. #5 Mr. Right
    February 14, 2011

    Why planned parenthood matters to me:

    1) founded by racist bigot and feminazi, margaret sanger who once stated she would like to eradicate the black race.
    2) often and lately is involved in sex trafficking
    3) involved in underage and illegal infanticides
    4) funds abortuaries all acros america in the name of “women’s rights”

    Need I say more? planned parenthood is a sneaky racist bigot baby killer freakshow of an organization. If they so choose to run abortuaries, then they should have to rais etheir own money, not get one single red cent from the federal government. If republicans were serious about cutting spending they would cut all funding of all organizations, then cut money to the UN, the IMF, the world bank, all other countries, etc. That’s just for a start. I say we cut 65 % of the federal budget, dismember the IRS, cut the funding and powers of the FDA, EPA, and Education department in half. Fire everyone who is a socialist, hire more traditional americans to replace them, then run America like it was intended to be run when according to the original constitution.

    Make infanticide a felony.

    I am pro choice – on light bulbs, health care, and what kind of car should exist. Not electric wimp cars

  6. #6 Dave Peters
    February 15, 2011

    Wow, a guy who signs on “Mr Right” posts nothing but lies and smear. I’m stunned.

  7. #7 Wow
    February 15, 2011

    “Make infanticide a felony.”

    If you insist, but infant starts after birth, not before.

  8. #8 Jim Wiggin
    February 15, 2011

    Mike,

    Thanks for helping out. We need to remind young people that as recently as 1965 it could be illegal for a doctor to prescribe birth control and in many states it was not readily available.

    I have sons in their early to mid 20s and most of the people they know would not think of having sex without a condom. Most of that is due to the good people at Planned Parenthood. Just think of all the unwanted pregnancies and STD epidemics we would have without their efforts–no matter now much abstinence is taught in school.

  9. #9 Liz
    February 15, 2011

    When I was an uninsured hourly worker, Planned Parenthood supplied me with a GYN exam and affordable birth control. Their sliding scale means patients can afford essential healthcare services – and it means they need other sources of financial support.

  10. #10 Mr. Right
    February 15, 2011

    Life begins at conception, not birth.

    Inside the womb, there is a BABY. stop killing babies in the womb and justifying by saying it was your right.

    All that talk of “it’s not a baby until it comes out” is a bunch of crap.

    It;s a baby. Always has been, always will be. it’s not up for debate. End of story. live with it.

  11. #11 Vivien
    February 15, 2011

    I will always support the rights of a sentient, sapient being over those of an admittedly living thing who is neither. I will also support that sentient, sapient being’s rights to decent healthcare. Because nothing says “Life” like not dying of a preventable disease. I’m going to go give Planned Parenthood a donation now.

  12. #12 Wow
    February 16, 2011

    “Life begins at conception, not birth.”

    True. We kill live bacteria though.

    “Inside the womb, there is a BABY.”

    So when the natural birth is not taken to term, this is God killing babies?

    And a baby isn’t born at conception. It doesn’t exist as a humanoid for months (it’s more reptilian).

    “It;s a baby. Always has been, always will be.”

    I thought it started at conception?

    No, it’s not a baby, it’s an embryo. When it’s born, it’s a baby. It’s not up for debate, end of story, just live with it.

  13. #13 Alan Aversa
    February 16, 2011

    Planned Parenthood is in the eugenics business. Read about its founder Margaret Sanger.

  14. #14 NJ
    February 16, 2011

    AA @ 12:

    Planned Parenthood is in the eugenics business.

    …and Darwin was a racist. Look! His book mentions races in the title! He must have been a racist!

    Looking at the blog you linked to suggests you should be over at PZ’s place complaining about cracker abuse.

  15. #15 Wow
    February 16, 2011

    So are xians.

    Or do you think that Sodom had no pregnant mothers within its walls when God burned them all?

    Maybe Mrs Lot was pregnant too when she was en-condimented by God for looking back at her home and family.

  16. #16 Concerned
    February 18, 2011

    This is appropriate for the conversation…..The House voted to bar Planned Parenthood from federal funding. They cut funding for HIV tests, cancer screenings, birth control, and more, putting millions of women and families at risk. Sign the open letter to the reps who voted for this bill — and to the senators who still have a chance to stop it.

    http://www.ppaction.org/IStandWithPP

    Please share this with everyone.

  17. #17 ButchKitties
    February 18, 2011

    Margaret Sanger was a racist? So what if she was. What matters is what Planned Parenthood is doing now.

    Protestant Christianity was founded by a man who wrote that it was a Christian’s moral duty to slay those evil Christ-killing Jews. If Margaret Sanger’s racism is proof that modern Planned Parenthood is in the eugenics business, then Martin Luther’s tract “On Jews and Their Lies” is proof that all Protestant churches are in the genocide business.

    “then run America like it was intended to be run when according to the original constitution. “

    The original Constitution says that those of a certain skin tone are only 3/5 a person. That is an evil way to run a country.

    “Life begins at conception, not birth.”

    That’s not correct. Life actually begins before conception. Those eggs and sperm are living cells. Do you propose we also make it illegal for men to masturbate or for women to have their periods? Just because it is alive doesn’t mean it’s a person. DNA does not magically make an instant person. DNA is the beginning of a developmental process that eventually results in a person. If it’s moral to remove life support from a brain dead coma patient, then it’s moral to abort an embryo that hasn’t yet developed a brain – which is the case with every single elective abortion in the US.

  18. #18 Ginger
    February 19, 2011

    Can you imagine how many abortions Planned Parenthood prevents?

    But I guess to imagine that it takes the ability to think.

  19. #19 bob
    February 19, 2011

    except for abortions, all of the things in the pie chart are available at the local county health department, at reduced or zero cost… why fund redundancy?

  20. #20 ButchKitties
    February 21, 2011

    Bob, I’d like a source for your statement. I just looked at my own county health department’s list of services, and it does not offer contraception or cancer screening. It only offers STI screening.

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