Kimberly D’Urso: Misguided campaigns to defund Planned Parenthood alarming
Planned Parenthood is a nearly 100-year-old organization that serves our communities nationwide by providing low-cost and free reproductive health services to women and men who might otherwise be unable to access this important healthcare, usually due to socioeconomic status or limited rural access.
As one who believes in the right of every woman to make choices for her body, and as president of Nevada County Citizens for Choice, I feel compelled to share my personal story about Planned Parenthood and why I stand solidly with its mission.
As the result of a date rape, I became pregnant at 18. I was 400 miles away from home, newly graduated from high school, alone, and frightened. With no one to rely on but myself for help, and putting aside my grief over having been raped, I focused on my unwanted pregnancy and considered my options. I spotted a billboard advertisement stating: “Scared? Pregnant? We will help you.” I was relieved to find the crisis pregnancy center where I reluctantly shared my private and painful story and stated very clearly that I wished to have an abortion as soon as possible.
I was then taken to a room decorated like a baby’s room — crib and all — and left there to watch a video, informing me that abortion was murder. I left sad, humiliated, and angry at having been manipulated and deceived by a message that had seemed to offer me no real help nor any choice.
After further researching further resources available, I made an appointment with Planned Parenthood. My counselor was a certified professional, kind and non-judgmental, who explained all of my options: carrying a pregnancy to term, adoption, and abortion. I chose to have an abortion. There was no agenda or ulterior motive, just total support. I appreciated Planned Parenthood’s help, and I do not regret my choice to have an abortion.
The misinformation must stop. Most disturbing to me about the ideologically-based campaign to defund Planned Parenthood is the egregious misinformation being disseminated as fact-based, especially as it relates to fetal tissue donation and Planned Parenthood’s abortion statistics. Planned Parenthood has never sold fetal tissue for profit. That is illegal. Planned Parenthood gets reimbursed for the cost of shipping donated fetal tissue to medical research facilities whose mission it is to advance scientific discovery in such areas as prenatal surgery and developing treatments for degenerative diseases. This is exactly the same program as facilitated by hospitals across the country acting as middlemen for people who wish to donate their organs for scientific research.
Accurate, fact-based statistics are readily available regarding Planned Parenthood and its services. Out of the 100 percent of services administered by Planned Parenthood, the breakdown is as follows: Cancer Screening and Prevention, 16 percent; Contraception, 35 percent; STD and STI Testing and Treatment (Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Infections), 35 percent; Other Women’s Health Services, 10 percent; Abortions, 3 percent. This means that 97 percent of health services are not abortions.
It is illegal for abortion to be funded by taxpayer dollars. When you hear a politician pledge that he will ensure that no federal tax dollars will be used for abortion, he was, at best, misinformed. One wonders if the facts are being deliberately misrepresented to gain votes.
The $500 million in Title X federal funds for women’s health services, which is now under attack in Congress, does not pay for abortions either. The U.S. Title X national family planning program was implemented 45 years ago, with bipartisan support. Unfortunately, the Republicans in Congress now have Title X — “the only federal grant program dedicated solely to family planning and related preventive health care — in their sights for severe funding cuts or even elimination.”
Title X federal funds make a huge difference for many women and men in the United States. Did you know that 4.6 million clients are served by Title X? Did you know of 4.6 million pregnancies, 1 million unintended pregnancies and 345,000 abortions have been averted because of Title X funds? These important funds provide services such as contraception, cancer screenings and HIV tests for low-income women. The Guttmacher Institute reported that, in 2013 alone, Title X-funded family planning services decreased unintended pregnancy and abortion by 30 percent. (2015 Guttmacher.)
I did not ever want to have an abortion, yet I am glad I had the choice available to me. I believe we all want to decrease abortion and reduce the number of unintended pregnancies. The way to do that is by supporting reproductive health education, providing access to birth control, and maintaining family-planning strategies. Planned Parenthood provides this education and service to our national communities. I will always be grateful for that.
Kimberly D’Urso is president of Nevada County Citizens for Choice.
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