The recent surges of controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood have finally, after much ado, boiled down to one common question: “Do we need Planned Parenthood?”
I’ve seen it on Facebook, I’ve seen it right here on CSU’s plaza, it feels like it’s everywhere. I’m not crazy about this question, mostly because depending on which “we” you’re talking about, the answer isn’t easy to find. While I haven’t come to my own decision about the matter yet, along the way I’ve encountered a few problems with the debate that could significantly affect the future of the issue in which I believe deserve open discussion.
The first problem is that regardless of whether or not we need Planned Parenthood, so many of us are taking a side based on surface-level knowledge of the issue. This causes a person to not only be completely ignorant to an important side of the story, but they’ll also share in the blame some ten years from now when Planned Parenthood either is or isn’t around and they’re not happy about whichever outcome unfolds.
I’m pretty sure that when the average person thinks about Planned Parenthood, factors such as economic efficiency, the amount of services offered and how many people they actually serve aren’t the first things to come to mind, but if you’re involved in this issue they cannot be ignored or downplayed.
Emily Faulkner, president of Students for Life at CSU, makes a case against Planned Parenthood from an economic standpoint. She talked with me about how, compared to available alternatives, Planned Parenthood actually falls short in serving their communities which points to the idea that they may be wasting economic resources.
“I believe that Planned Parenthood is not necessary because we have federally qualified healthcare centers (FQHC) … the have more healthcare centers and they serve more people,” she said. “I think overall the FQHC’s are doing a lot more for the community … and a lot of people don’t know the lack of resources at Planned Parenthood.”
Emily pointed out that a lot of people might not be aware of FQHC’s and the services they provide, which may be a reason why some of them choose to cling to keeping Planned Parenthood around. Additionally, many would argue that one of Planned Parenthood’s main points of interest is how well it serves people and students with low income and those who don’t have access to the best health insurance. However, according to the U.S. Department of Human Services, “FQHCs must serve an underserved area or population, offer a sliding fee scale, provide comprehensive services, have an ongoing quality assurance program, and have a governing board of directors.”
I knew next-to-nothing about much of that when I first got interested in the debate, and it is information like this and more that is necessary to gain a full-circle, educated view of the issue.
Even if you don’t want to join their club, even if you have steadfast pro-choice beliefs, I would encourage CSU students to use Students For Life as a resource to get educated about a range of perspectives surrounding the issue. Quite frankly I never thought I’d be recommending that people seek out a pro-life group to engage in a civil discussion about the benefits and shortcomings of Planned Parenthood. But from what I can tell, Students for Life seeks to genuinely educate and discuss versus to persuade and make people feel bad about their opinions and choices.
The second problem is that men seem to be under the impression that they are removed from the Planned Parenthood debate. Planned Parenthood isn’t just for women; men go there more frequently than one might think for STD screenings and even routine checkups. Consequently, the men who utilize Planned Parenthood have a responsibility to make a decision about keeping Planned Parenthood around or if FQHC’s might be a better place to steer taxpayer dollars. Convenience and the environment of Planned Parenthood also play a part in the decision.
For the men who don’t use Planned Parenthood, I’d imagine most of them wouldn’t want someone they deeply care about to be at a disadvantage when it comes to accessing health care. So I’d encourage them to consider the important women in their lives and find out if Planned Parenthood is a helpful resource for them or not when compared to alternatives, because especially with the election coming up, the men’s voice matters too.
In general, I think the majority of us would be hard pressed to identify any hot-button issue going on in our country right now that doesn’t affect us at all, that we are indeed completely removed from.
The third problem is that the abortion factor is not the Alpha and Omega of the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood. If you’ve decided that we don’t need Planned Parenthood solely because you don’t believe in abortions, I’m sorry to tell you that you’re engaging in the wrong debate.
Questioning the need for Planned Parenthood goes far beyond whether or not women should be able to have abortions, yet that seems to be the headlining factor that many people and campaigns are focusing on. Also, Planned Parenthood isn’t the only place that offers abortion services, and even so performing abortions makes up a mere three percent of their services. With that in mind, basing a major decision about Planned Parenthood’s existence either completely or mostly off of your abortion convictions is pretty useless no matter what you believe.
If you plan on engaging in this debate and taking a stance, whether it be via discussion, basic activism or participating in potentially game-changing movements associated with Planned Parenthood, I hope your actions are educated and that you are aware of the fact that our generation truly is the future and we have so much power and so many opportunities to reroute that future. Maybe we need Planned Parenthood and maybe we don’t, but if you think for whatever reason that this has nothing to do with you or the future you, I’d ask you to seriously reconsider.
Collegian Opinion Editor Haleigh McGill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @HaleighMcGill.