Science and Technology
By Sarah Liberow, Contributing Writer
Amidst the controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood and its various services, there are a lot of misconceptions about Planned Parenthood and what services it provides to the general public. Many may believe that Planned Parenthood’s sole purpose is to provide abortions or that it is only needed by pregnant women or those with uteruses. There is also confusion on the ramifications of providing sex education to teenagers and whether only sexually active people need to be tested for STDs. To aid in clearing up these misunderstandings, I will address several myths and shed light on lesser known facts about Planned Parenthood.
A myth that circulates often is that over 90% of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortions. Although there is a mistaken assumption that Planned Parenthood largely exists as an abortion clinic, Planned Parenthood’s 2017-2018 Annual Report proves otherwise: only 3.4 percent of the 9.6 million services provided by Planned Parenthood in 2017 were abortions. In reality, Planned Parenthood provides a myriad of services for general sexual and reproductive health, which leads us to the second myth: Planned Parenthood can’t help you with anything unless you’re pregnant. In truth, Planned Parenthood’s services span many aspects of sexual and reproductive health for any gender, including, but not limited to: access to birth control, contraception, STD testing and treatment, pregnancy testing and services, patient education, as well as routine screenings for women, men, and anyone who requires care. These services are covered under most health insurances, and even otherwise, Planned Parenthood will work to provide its patient with services.
Some may wonder why they should care about Planned Parenthood if they aren’t looking to get pregnant or aren’t sexually active, but general wellness checkups are important no matter what stage of life someone is at. Planned Parenthood’s regular screenings can catch STDs and cancers while they are still treatable. Additionally, some may believe that there is no need to be tested for STDs if they aren’t sexually active, when, according to the Mayo Clinic, “The organisms (bacteria, viruses or parasites) that cause sexually transmitted diseases may pass from person to person in blood, semen, or vaginal and other bodily fluids.” For example, HIV can be passed from an HIV-positive person to an HIV negative person through the sharing of injection drug equipment. Therefore, it is important to have affordable and accessible testing centers where one can be screened for STDs and treated if necessary.
According to a survey that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted in 2017, 40% of American high school students had already had sex, with almost half not practicing safety measures to prevent pregnancies or the spread of sexually transmitted diseases. Consequently, it is vital for teenagers to be educated in order to avoid unwanted pregnancies and to protect themselves. Planned Parenthood provides many resources for teenagers to learn about puberty, STDs, and pregnancy prevention, as well as learning about consent and their sexual and gender identity. It is imperative to supply teenagers with accurate medical information so they can make safe decisions as they mature. Therefore, Planned Parenthood’s range of healthcare services provides both adults and young adults alike access to essential care—from contraception to general well-being—and provides critical sexual education to people from all walks of life.