I’m continually frustrated by the debate over funding for Planned Parenthood. The right wing wants us to believe that Planned Parenthood exists for the sole purpose of aborting unwanted pregnancies. That is so far from the truth as to be laughable.
Abortions represent only 3% of the services offered by Planned Parenthood. I believe it’s the name that’s giving opponents fodder. What if instead of being called Planned Parenthood it was called Women and Children’s Health Service? Would the arguments against it be as simplistic? The truth is that the organization now known as Planned Parenthood provides women basic health care including STD screenings and cancer screenings that save countless lives through early detection. It also provides contraceptive education and birth control to thousands in an effort to prevent unwanted pregnancies in the first place.
Not only caring for women, Planned Parenthood funds and trains employees who provide adolescent medical care for children in LAUSD in conjunction with Calfornia’s PTA. Planned Parenthood also serves men offering testicular cancer screenings and vasectomies.
If you Google Planned Parenthood 99% of the sites that come up are full of vitriolic anger against the organization including clearly false, outlandish claims such as that Planned Parenthood is selling baby parts! There is a series of attacks that liken Planned Parenthood service providers to used car salesmen and others that try to convince readers that Planned Parenthood is somehow linked to child pornography. It’s almost comical but given the current budget fights and our President’s penchant for compromise, we can’t afford to simply be amused and ignore these ludicrous accusations.
It scares me that there are people, people with votes, who believe this anti Planned Parenthood propaganda. Even George Will, a conservative who I generally admire for his intelligence even if I disagree with him on policy, has bought into the negative rhetoric without bothering to investigate the truth.
Planned Parenthood needs a campaign of education. Unfortunately, they’re too busy providing free services to the most underserved, underinsured women throughout our country to wage a campaign in their own defense.
So I suggest, the first and easiest step in the war against disinformation is to have their name reflect the wide range of services they provide and those to whom they offer those services.