The recent vote in the House to cut funding for Planned Parenthood facilities is so stunning that I am losing faith in my country. I vote, I pay taxes, I play the devil's advocate when our government makes choices that aren't immediately agreeable. And thanks to this vote, I have never felt more abandoned.
I know that abortion is a hot-button issue, so let's leave that out of it for now (even though I am a staunch supporter of the right for the woman to choose her own morality). My local Planned Parenthood offers classes to help men, women, and children of polygamous families re-enter the non-polygamous society. They offer medical care for families and children that cannot afford it. They offer influenza and hepatitis inoculations at low or no cost that benefit the whole county by keeping diseases down. And they offer a safe place to seek medical care.
I am a married, committed, monogamous woman who just cannot afford to raise a child properly right now. So I, as I have done for the last 13 years, visit Planned Parenthood for my birth control pills. Though I am pushing 30, the wonderful staff members at these facilities always ask if I have ever been hit, kicked, punched or slapped. If I have ever been forced to have sex when I didn't want to. The walls are covered with posters warning women to guard their drinks and be aware because "Date Rape Happens."
There is so much in the media suggesting to young women that they must be sexual to be accepted. Let's take Kim Kardashian, a young woman with famous parents who is mostly famous because of her sex tape. "Jersey Shore," a television show with the most despicable of characters regularly promotes sexual situations. Even WalMart is selling a makeup line for girls aged 8-12. Young women are being hypersexualized from an earlier and earlier age. But where the media does not cover are the actual ramifications of that sexualization. Couple that with our rather Puritan avoidance of sexual education, and the fact that sex is very much a taboo for all ages, and we are left with a giant, dangerous gap. Planned Parenthood fills that gap. They teach that you should only have sex when you are really ready. That it isn't right to be pressured into having sex. They work on the self-esteem of young women who feel pressured by their partners and by society at large to start too early, and thanks to our fear of The Sex Talk, don't feel comfortable turning to their parents or community leaders. They also offer services to prevent the need for abortions.
Planned Parenthood is a safe place and they offer a very, very important public service. To cut their funding will only leave thousands of young men, women, families, and children from having access to the medical and mental health services they desperately need.
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