If you've read even only one other post on this blog, I don't think the above "declaration" is that much of a surprise. Everyone (at least in my circle of friends) has been up in arms since the House of Representatives voted to bar federal funding for Planned Parenthood. People are equal parts shocked, outraged and in complete disbelief over this.
I am no exception. (I'm just a mama with a son on school vacation and no time to write about it! Okay, and yes, perhaps I spent last night watching an episode of RuPaul's Drag Race once the kiddo went to bed...but can you blame me?)
My relationship with Planned Parenthood is a long one, stemming from trips to my local Planned Parenthood clinic with friends when we were in high school to helping set up appointments for my own students back when I taught high school.
I've always been one for comprehensive sex education over abstinence-only programs in public high schools. My main reason being that, overall, abstinence-only education doesn't actually work.
Every spring, one of the classes I taught incorporated a "sex-ed" component to fulfill state requirements and a Planned Parenthood instructor took over for two jam-packed days of imparting crucial information on birth control and STI prevention. She would show slides of various venereal diseases, demonstrate proper condom usage and take any and all questions that a bunch of excited seventeen year olds threw at her.
I didn't start this blog post to discuss sex-ed in public school systems. Really. I promise. I mostly meant to wax on about my relationship with Planned Parenthood and the injustice served to the organization (and communities at large) via the House of Representatives. Yet, I can't touch on this one memory without stopping for a brief second.
This wonderful Planned Parenthood instructor would stand before 400+ students and impart crucial and potentially life saving information in two class periods. That roughly came out to 100 minutes total of sex-ed for an entire senior class. For the year.
While perhaps better than an abstinence-only curriculum, it always amazed me that we were only allotting that small amount of time on something that could be so life changing. In a country with one of the highest teen pregnancy rates, and where teens make up half of all newly reported cases of STIs each year, I can't quite grasp why we're not advocating for more education.
Every year after the Planned Parenthood presentation, without fail, I always had a handful of students approach me, shocked by various STI and pregnancy information. Some were curious, others nervous or afraid, but most wanted me to help them schedule appointments at Planned Parenthood for testing and/or contraception. A few students even jokingly suggested a field trip there.
When I look back on it now, I wonder if I would have gotten in trouble with administration if it came out that I helped these students schedule appointments. As a teacher, my first concern was always my students...helping them achieve the best and brightest future possible. This part was no exception.
After I left teaching to raise my son, I still kept my connection to Planned Parenthood by volunteering. As a volunteer, I did a myriad of things. I staffed booths at community events where we gave out informational pamphlets and condoms. I polled the voting booths of local elections in hopes that people were voting for representatives that would support Planned Parenthood.
Now...look at that. An entire blog post about Planned Parenthood and not once did I mention the "a-word." It's almost too easy to get folks up in arms with issues revolving around abortion. And while I'm as pro-choice as they come, that's not what this fight is about for me. This is not about a "win" for pro-life folks or a loss for those who are pro-choice.
This is a loss for anyone and everyone who needs access to low cost health care.
This is a loss for men and women who need access to low cost or free birth control.
This is a loss for many teens who only get those 100 minutes of sex-ed a year.
This is a loss on many levels.
When the House voted to bar funding for Planned Parenthood, they essentially created a larger problem. Think of the possibly implication we're setting ourselves up for by omitting the folks that offer the health care, the education, the birth control...
If you haven't already (you know, because you were busy crafting with your kid or even watching RuPaul's Drag Race), I implore you to please sign the petition to stand with Planned Parenthood and express your outrage at this action.