For some people, when they hear the name Planned Parenthood, the first thing that comes to mind is abortion. But that's not all Planned Parenthood does.
Every few years or so, in their fight against reproductive rights, activists refocus on Planned Parenthood as enemy #1. People who are against abortion hold it up as the representation of all that is wrong with America: "An entire medical practice set up to give women abortions! They must be stopped!" But what most of them don't admit is this really important fact:
Only a measly 3% of their Planned Parenthood services are actually abortion-related.
Do they know that? Did you know that? Well, in an effort to combat the "big bad abortion wolf" narrative, here are five facts you should know about what Planned Parenthood really does:
1. In 2013, Planned Parenthood performed half a million breast exams.
Breast exams are crucial for early cancer detection. Not only does Planned Parenthood offer affordable exams, they make sure patients know how to do self-exams between screenings.
2. In 2013, Planned Parenthood performed 400,000 pap tests.
While the pap smear won't tell you if you have cervical cancer, it can detect pre-cancerous cells. Basically, if there's anything sketchy going on in your cervix, the pap smear tells your doctor so you can figure out the best way to handle it. For people who don't have insurance or need more affordable health care options, Planned Parenthood is their first stop for preventive and reproductive health care like pap smears.
3. Planned Parenthood helps prevent over half a million pregnancies every year.
If you're not ready for parenthood but abstinence isn't your style, safe sex is your best bet. Luckily, Planned Parenthood offers free and affordable birth-control options like the pill, the patch, IUDs, and condoms — in addition to emergency contraception like Plan B. And while some people have incorrectly dubbed Plan B an "abortion pill," it actually just prevents conception — it doesn't terminate pregnancy. Think of Plan B as as a soccer goalie who goes in and blocks the sperm from ever getting to the egg. Yay sports analogies!
4. In 2013, Planned Parenthood provided nearly 4.5 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
When we talk about safe sex, pregnancy prevention is often the main focus, as if that's the only consequence of doing the deed. But sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are something we all have to consider. Condoms are a great way to prevent STIs, but sadly they don't always get the job done. That's why it's great that Planned Parenthood offers affordable STI testing and treatment options. More people who are aware of their STI status and get treatment means more happy and healthy sexual partners to go around. That's pretty much a win for everyone.
5. Planned Parenthood encourages patients to explore all their options, not just abortion. That includes adoption and parenthood.
While abortion is one way to deal with an unplanned pregnancy, that doesn't mean it's the right choice for everyone. Planned Parenthood is about helping teens and adults make smart and healthy choices, not forcing people into doing things they aren't comfortable with.
When it comes to dealing with an unplanned pregnancy, adoption and parenthood are worth considering too. Whether it's online or in person, Planned Parenthood helps women who are considering all options, including adoption or parenthood.
There are millions of people who rely on Planned Parenthood for all kinds of important health care services.
Whether you're pro-life or pro-choice, I hope we can all agree to be pro-health. Right now, anti-abortion activists are pushing to defund Planned Parenthood, which would keep people from accessing health care like cancer screenings, HIV tests, and more.
If you think it's important that these kinds of free and low-cost services remain available, let Congress know you support Planned Parenthood by signing the "I Stand With Planned Parenthood" petition.