Since the first Planned Parenthood opened its storefront in Brooklyn back in 1916, the organization has revolutionized the way people across America receive reproductive and sexual healthcare. Starting as one single clinic that offered birth control to women, Planned Parenthood today has expanded immensely; with about 650 clinics across the nation now providing even more services for women such as pap smears, STD testing, breast examinations and more—along with even providing services that cater to male reproductive health and the transgender community. Despite being a vital health care provider for millions of people yearly, this organization has grown in controversy over the years, leading members of today’s society—whether that be government, or just everyday citizens—to actively place an attack on Planned Parenthood.
With this rise of controversy, daily civilian protests have become a norm for Planned Parenthood. Mainly due to the fact that the organization provides abortions for patients, pickators are known to stand outside clinics and challenge the institution; all to the point in which volunteers, called Borders, have to help patients safely walk into clinics—even if they are there just to simply get a vaccine. However, the most horrific, violent attack ever placed on a Planned Parenthood occurred about just three years ago in Colorado Springs. On November 27, 2015, a man walked into a Planned Parenthood and opened fire: killing three and injuring nine. In addition to this, just back in February of this year, a man was accused of deliberately driving a truck into a clinic in East Orange, New Jersey.
Although peaceful protests can be supported and are completely understandable, for “protestors” to threaten the safety of patients at these clinics and cross into the “terrorist” description is unacceptable. Rather than dehumanizing Planned Parenthood patients for simply using the clinic for their healthcare, the organization must be viewed at as a whole. For instance, although abortion is the main reason thousands of people protest Planned Parenthood, in reality, only 3% of all services they provided last year included abortions. This means that about 97% of services are widely accepted practices in society that women are reliant on Planned Parenthood for simply because they cannot get help anywhere else.
Along with the protests and terrorist attacks against Planned Parenthood clinics across the nation, the Trump administration has began attacking the organization as a whole. For months now, the government has been announcing new regulations and fund cuts for Title X, a federal grant program created by Nixon in 1970. Originally created to help low income women have access to reproductive health services no matter the circumstances, the Trump administration has now threatened to take away Title X funding for any clinic that provides abortion, as well as implement a new “gag” rule that would withhold information from patients and make it illegal to inform women where to get safe abortions.
Although understandable in theory for a government that wants to put a stop to abortions, these threats to the Title X funds will do nothing but harm to the four million Americans that rely on the grant for basic healthcare. Though the threats to Title X are all around abortions, in reality, the grant covers pretty much everything but abortions. Therefore, by taking away access of this money to the civilians that need it, all that’s being taken away are vital services such as birth control, STD and HIV testing, wellness exams, and cervical and breast cancer screenings.
Rather than seeing Planned Parenthood as an abortion factory, we must come together to see the legitimacy and benefits of the organization as a whole. With presidency shifting from Cecile Richards to Dr. Leana Wen—the first ever physician to be president of Planned Parenthood—the organization is now more qualified than ever to help over four and a half million people receive the reproductive healthcare and education that they need. Instead of the controversies, Planned Parenthood clinics should be realized for what they are: a place for low income families who may not be able to have health insurance or even medicaid receive health care on a wide spectrum.
From general health care like vaccines, to cancer testing, birth control, STD testing, pelvic exams, vasectomies, referrals and more, Planned Parenthood really is beneficial for everyone. Available to all people— no matter income, insurance status, or even citizenship— Planned Parenthood is meant to be a safe place to receive not only reproductive and sexual healthcare, but education that everyone deserves.