By Rachel Smith
Putting a condom on a banana.
Trying to correctly label female anatomy.
Saying the word “penis” without laughing.
Teenagers make fun of sexual education until their choices sink in and become a reality. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America is one of many organizations that strives to educate people, especially teenagers, about sex and give them a resource to turn to for sexual guidance and advice.
The Brooklyn-based organization, originally known as the American Birth Control League, came under fire in 2015 for allegations connected to the sale of fetal tissue.
According to the Center for Medical Progress, an anti-abortion group, Planned Parenthood is in violation of 42 U.S. Code 289 g-2: “It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly acquire, receive or otherwise transfer any human fetal tissue for valuable consideration if the transfer affects interstate commerce.”
CNN reported that Republicans in Congress are now using this to promote the defunding of Planned Parenthood and all of its amenities. In some states, this even includes facilities that don’t offer abortion or fetal donation as services.
The reality is that an attack on Planned Parenthood isn’t simply an attack on fetal tissue sales or even on abortion. It’s an attack on all of those who use Planned Parenthood’s facilities — the sick, poor and young.
Included on Planned Parenthood’s website is a page dedicated specifically to teenagers. It covers questions about one’s body, puberty, LGBTQ+ issues, relationships, dating and, of course, sex.
According to Advocates for Youth, an organization devoted to promoting sexual health among youth, 37 of the 50 states mandate abstinence education in public schools. Therefore, an organization like Planned Parenthood that provides both accurate and extensive sexual care information is not to be under appreciated. In addition to its free online materials, Planned Parenthood offers health services to teenagers and encourages sexual self-awareness while providing support that many teens may not find at home.
The recent turmoil concerning Planned Parenthood is hyper focused on the organization's abortion practices and handling of fetal tissue. Planned Parenthood is open about its statistics, and the website indicates that abortions only take up 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services.
The other 97 percent is divided amongst sexually transmitted infection and disease testing and treatment, contraception, cancer screenings and prevention, pregnancy tests, prenatal services, family practice services, adoption referrals and urinary tract infection treatment.
Some congressmen are threatening a repeat of the government shutdown in 2013 if Planned Parenthood isn’t deprived of its federally allotted $500 million funding. A government shutdown is counterproductive for a lot of reasons, but mainly because it fails to address the central issue altogether.
The Hyde Amendment, passed by Congress in 1976, prevents the use of federal funds to pay for abortion anyway. Whatever the state-by-state case is, depriving Planned Parenthood of its federal money will have a direct and lasting effect on the 97 percent of services that do not include abortion procedures.
So, what are anti-abortion organizations and politicians really gunning for in the fight against Planned Parenthood? It’s not an attack on fetal tissue sales, it’s an attack on abortion, women, the poor and the uneducated.
Regardless of whether or not aspects of the organization need to be reformed, eradicating the entire system altogether will only further impair the individuals who rely on Planned Parenthood the most — specifically those dependent on Medicaid or low-cost treatment options.
If individuals move to defund Planned Parenthood, they must also accept the other implications of those actions, such as the eradication of affordable sexually transmitted disease testing and treatment, contraception, cancer screenings and many other health services for men and women.
These resources are open to teenagers and low-income workers who will likely have no other place to turn to without Planned Parenthood.