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Saturday, June 22, 2024
Banning funds for Planned Parenthood threatens sexual education

Mike Kujak

Banning funds for Planned Parenthood threatens sexual education

Last Tuesday night in Madison, a 21-year-old woman was attacked after leaving her appointment at Planned Parenthood. A stranger allegedly put her in a choke hold and said, ""You better watch what you do.""

After reading about this incident, I've been repeating that sentence in my head. You better watch what you do? The stranger had no idea what she was doing there. In 2008, PP reported that 35 percent of total services dealt with contraceptive requests, 34 percent constituted STD testing and treatment and 17 percent was allocated toward cancer testing and screening. Other women's health procedures made up 10 percent of PP's services, including pregnancy, prenatal, mid-life, and infertility. Only three percent of visits involved abortions. Even if the appointment was abortion related, how in the hell is it any of the attacker's business?

Hatred has surrounded PP since it started 90 years ago, and that anger has recently surfaced in Congress. Last Friday, the House passed a measure to ban all funding toward Planned Parenthood—a leading organization in realistic 21st century sexual education and women's health. This lack of funding only means that sexual education is about to become an even bigger joke than it already is. 

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First, let's brush up on how the country has handled teen pregnancy and sex ed over the last 10 years. During the Bush administration, the federal government spent $1.5 billion on religiously-oriented programs that focused on abstinence and delaying sex until marriage, approaches that were more concerned with a certain ideology and failed to educate teens about safe sex or the use of condoms in the age of an HIV epidemic.

Last October, President Barack Obama started to reform some of these past mistakes by attempting to fund organizations that have a history of showing results. That, however, was before the 2010 elections. It's a different Congress now. Last Thursday, The House voted 240-185 to kill government funds supporting Planned Parenthood, which provides a variety of services, including health care services to a huge majority of women and children, many of them poor. Other services include cancer screening, family planning, general OB-GYN services and STD testing.

Voices that supported Planned Parenthood were obviously upset by the news. Just a few days ago Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wisc., put it plain and simple in the House:

""Planned Parenthood is healthy for women, healthy for children and healthy for our society."" 

PP is a rare organization that helps solve one of this country's most polarizing problems, whether you're pro-choice or not. Even anti-abortion Democrat Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts said that, despite his beliefs, he supports the organization.

""This is about the ability of Planned Parenthood to conduct women's health care, to offer services that are deeply needed in many communities where no other source of health care is available…I don't have many friends in the Planned Parenthood community. They don't support me. I am pro-life. But I respect the good work that they do,"" Lynch said.

But hey, these arguments are nothing new. So what's got GOP members in Congress like Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy co-sponsoring a bill to kill PP funding? Well, if you haven't heard, the national economy has gone down the drain and fiscally responsible politicians are looking for programs to flush. Despite the cold economic reality, PP funding is one of the few private organizations that are absolutely essential for women's and sexual health. There's no doubt some tough cuts need to be made, but cuts to PP will be horribly counter-productive for two main reasons. 

First of all, teen pregnancy isn't going to ""tighten its belt"" or ""pull itself up by its own bootstraps"" in these hard economic times. Teen pregnancy and STDs are the result of bored and uneducated teenagers locked in a government building five days a week. Scare tactics thrust upon kids by health teachers are not going to inspire teens to practice safe sex. Only proper education will reap real results.

The second and most important reason why these cuts are a major mistake is the fact that the United States can't afford not to fund organizations like Planned Parenthood. The United States has the highest rates of teen pregnancy and births in the western industrialized world. According to the Washington, D.C. Urban Institute, teen pregnancy costs U.S. taxpayers at least $7 billion annually. Planned Parenthood, however, is doing more to fix these issues than any other organization out there. Government funding can be a complex sewer of deception and greed. So when an organization like Planned Parenthood comes around with an appropriate and fully realized solution to one of the nation's biggest problems, the government shouldn't think twice.

At the end of the day, I try to respect the GOP's views on issues like abortions, women's rights and sexual education. However, we have a fundamental disagreement on how to fix the problem of teen pregnancy. In the last few days I have seen the passion that Madison has used to protect workers' rights. I only hope that in the upcoming weeks we can find the same passion to support women's rights.

If you're against the House's recent vote or are just interested in the cause, PlannedParenthood.org has launched an impressive online campaign called ""I stand with Planned Parenthood."" The website features an online petition in which you can sign digitally and make your voice heard.

Mike Kujak is sophomore with an undeclared major. Please send all feedback to opinion@dailycardinal.com. 

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