The Dirty Truth About Planned Parenthood
Women’s health, or more specifically, women’s reproductive health, has been the subject of much contention lately. It has become a political issue, and it shouldn’t be. Many people simplify it to pro-life versus pro-choice, but it's much more than that. Reproductive health and rights include ensuring a woman’s ability to mentally and emotionally care for her child, planned or unplanned, as well as the safety of both woman and fetus during pregnancy.
Much of the controversy surrounding women’s reproductive health addresses the funding of Planned Parenthood. Conservative politicians have proposed and supported a bill that would defund Planned Parenthood centers across the nation. The conflict is driven by the misperception that the government funding provided to Planned Parenthood goes primarily to abortions.
This is not the case. In fact, it is illegal for Planned Parenthood to use government funding to cover abortions. In addition to the bill Congress proposed last year to defund Planned Parenthood for one year, the organization reports that there have been 48 other bills introduced that would restrict women’s access to health care.
Most of the funding for Planned Parenthood goes toward services like STI/STD-testing, emergency contraception, birth control, and cancer screening and prevention, as well as Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PReP) prevention and hormone treatment for gender transition. PReP is a powerful preventive medication for people who are considered high-risk for HIV-exposure.
On a national scale, Planned Parenthood uses only 3% of its budget to fund abortions. This percentage is even lower in northern California, according to Senior Public Affairs Officer Gabriela Jiminez, where only 2% of the budget funds abortions.
In an effort to shed light on these issues, the Associated Students of Dominican University (ASDU) created a Planned Parenthood-awareness week. This is one in a series of ASDU-sponsored weeks designed to raise awareness about various political issues, and was created in conjunction with College Debate.
ASDU student body-president Navi Dhaliwal says, “We’re trying to strip away a culture on campus of not talking about things and sweeping issues under the rug.” Daliwhal was particularly interested in opening a dialogue about reproductive rights.
These awareness weeks build a framework for what ASDU can do for the entire student body. Dhaliwal discussed how they enable ASDU to broach issues with President Mary B. Marcy and the rest of the administration in hopes of implementing changes on campus that directly benefit the students.
Our last awareness week was about gun violence, and the next one will be about the rising cost of college. ASDU collectively chooses the topics from the wide range of issues that are currently making headlines, focusing on the ones that most impact our generation.
For me, Planned Parenthood is personal. While I can’t elaborate at this point in my life, I would hate to think of where I would be if I hadn't been able to go to Planned Parenthood and get the services I needed. I understand the importance of community health centers other than Planned Parenthood, but for a college student like me who doesn’t have a lot of free time, Planned Parenthood was the best option.
Planned Parenthood is not an abortion clinic. It provides a variety of invaluable services, and this is what the social issue awareness week wanted to convey. As Isabel Cremer, a member of ASDU, explains, “I think the point we really wanted to drive home was the misconception of Planned Parenthood being an abortion clinic first and everything else second.” ASDU hung a poster outside the dining hall and asked students to place a sticker where they think Planned Parenthood funding goes, in order to kickstart discussions.
Despite all the misconceptions out there, Dominican students were pretty accurate about where they believed funding goes: not toward abortion, but toward services like STD/STI-testing and preventive care.
Francyne Hari is a communications major at Dominican University of California. Her concentration is on multimedia journalism and broadcasting and she hopes to one day become a director. She’s involved with DU's College Debate Initiative, which follows the 2016 presidential campaign and seeks to get college students more politically engaged. She likes to watch YouTube videos and play video games and is part of a medieval combat society.