On Sept. 3, President Donald Trump sent out a press release promising to fully defund Planned Parenthood, as well as appoint a federal judge who opposes abortions if he is reelected. He has become one of the most pro-life presidents in history in order to score points with the anti-abortion voters.
While I was not surprised by the fact that Trump would say anything to get support from others, I was frustrated by the positive response this statement was getting. People of all ages are rallying to defund Planned Parenthood but at the cost of their own communities, especially college students. What Trump is actually doing by defunding Planned Parenthood is taking away the opportunity from patients to get care from public health programs. American citizens will be deprived of access to different health care services while we are still living in the middle of a pandemic.
One of the most popular misconceptions about Planned Parenthood is that it only does abortions. Although it provides access to legal, safe abortions, it is a huge nonprofit organization that provides contraceptives, cancer screenings, sexually transmitted infection tests and sexual and reproductive health education. On average, thousands of people go to the health centers to get free or low–cost reproductive health care every day. According to the Planned Parenthood 2018–19 annual report, abortion services only took up 4% of the medical services provided. Just last year, it was able to give over 4,900,000 STI tests and treatments, 2,500,000 contraceptive services, 560,000 preventative screenings and over 1,000,000 other services, including pregnancy tests, miscarriage care and adoption referrals. As a college student, it gives me a sense of security to know I have access to these services for little to no copay.
Planned Parenthood is not the enemy here. It is breaking the stigma of sexual health and education in the U.S. by providing access to services that are not as affordable anywhere else. Unwanted teen pregnancy is at a record low because of the increase in education and contraception use. Trump’s promise is just another way to satisfy his anti-abortion voters. This negative agenda is adding to the already established misinformation that is out there about Planned Parenthood and other public health programs. He is doing it for himself, not for the millions of American citizens in need of this type of health care.
As stated on its website, Planned Parenthood’s mission is “to provide comprehensive reproductive and complementary health care services in settings which preserve and protect the essential privacy and rights of each individual.” In today’s political environment, it is crucial to speak out in order to protect our rights that are being taken away. This is a women’s issue, a men’s issue and an LGBTQ+ issue. Planned Parenthood provides access to proper health care education and services for everyone, which is why it is so important to acknowledge, support, appreciate and protect that.