On September 3, President Donald Trump announced that if re-elected, he would fully defund Planned Parenthood. What this really means is that he intends to block patients who use public health care from accessing Planned Parenthood.
With this announcement, the results of the upcoming election are even more relevant to Berkeley High School (BHS) students and teenagers across America. The ‘defunding’ of Planned Parenthood would have a negative impact on the lives of many BHS students, along with teenagers around the world.
Planned Parenthood is a vital service to teenagers across America. In one year, approximately 393,000 unwanted pregnancies were prevented by Planned Parenthood, according to their 2018-19 annual report. About 345,000 abortion procedures occurred, and over 2,500,000 contraceptive services were provided. By blocking access to Planned Parenthood, Trump would be increasing the amount of unsafe and illegal abortions among teens. Planned Parenthood is also at the forefront of education and advocacy for teen sex education, providing teenagers access to gender and sexuality inclusive sexual health education.
The students at BHS also need the many services provided by Planned Parenthood. BHS has its own Health Center, but the services are limited. It provides HIV/STI prevention, testing, and treatment, contraception, drug and substance prevention, counseling, and sex education. However, there are things a BHS student might need that the Health Center does not provide. This includes UTI treatments, miscarriage care, adoption referrals, prenatal services, long-acting reversible forms of birth control, and abortions. These are all services provided by Planned Parenthood.
Anti-choice groups argue that defunding Planned Parenthood would decrease abortion. What many anti-choice groups don’t understand is that abortion services only make up 4 percent of the medical services that Planned Parenthood provides. It’s clear that Trump wants to ‘defund’ Planned Parenthood as a way to appease his anti-choice supporters, without thinking about the repercussions. The elimination of this organization would also have the worst implications for the same communities that Trump continues to oppress. This includes low income, LGBTQ+, Black, and Latinx patients. Many of the students at BHS are part of one or more of these communities, meaning they would be disproportionately affected.
Planned Parenthood recognizes the many health issues teens have to go through, separating them from any other health center. They are there for us in difficult times. They understand that unwanted pregnancies happen, and provide safe, legal abortions. Imagine what might happen without that option.
So what do we do? As teens, many of us can’t vote. This can be frustrating, but we can use our voice in other ways. Stay educated, and read up on what “defunding Planned Parenthood” really means. You can read all about it on I Stand With Planned Parenthood’s “Defund Defined” website, which also shows ways to fight against different legislation. We should all have the right to an abortion, sex education, and public health care. We have to make sure our access to these resources are not based on the decision of an old white man.