26 November 2012

Planned Parenthood Experience II

I'm titling this my second Planned Parenthood Experience rather than my first for a reason that will be mentioned later. Sorry if that is confusing...

What I want to write about is instead an experience that I had a few weeks ago. I visited the Planned Parenthood near where I live in Saint Paul, Minnesota to ask about volunteering opportunities. Outside there were three protesters. I obviously ignored them and did not take any of their propaganda, but just walked by them to enter the building. What struck me was one of the protesters called out, "Do you have a friend in there?"

It frustrates me how clueless the anti-abortion protesters are about Planned Parenthood. Abortions are a tiny fraction of what they do (3% to be exact). There are a number of reasons why I, as a male, might be there. One good reason, and the reason I have had a previous Planned Parenthood experience, is an HIV test. Everybody should periodically get an HIV test, and free tests were being offered one day so I took advantage of it. I should also note that HIV isn't just transmitted through sex. Contact with blood is another prime method of spread for the virus. In fact, screenings and treatments for STDs (including HIV) is 38% of what Planned Parenthood does.

Also, even if I did have a friend there, abortion is not the most likely reason for them to be there (as I said, 3%). Planned Parenthood offers a lot of medical services, particularly those of concern for women. What if I had been there about a friend's cancer screening (14.5% of what Planned Parenthood does)? I could also have been there to inquire about something as simple as birth control methods (which may potentially reduce the number of abortions performed). After all, contraception is 33% of the care provided by Planned Parenthood.

I didn't reply to the protesters, but it frustrated me. Do they think just because I am a man I would not be expected to be going to a Planned Parenthood? Do they think abortion is the majority of what Planned Parenthood does?

I strongly support women who choose to get an abortion. I also support women who choose not to get an abortion. When it comes down to the woman's body, she gets to make the choice. A fetus is part of the woman's body, and not its own independent human life, from implantation until viability (Roe v. Wade). If medically necessary, an abortion should be able to be performed after viability to save the life of the mother (which is just common sense). I would have no problem referring a friend or relative to Planned Parenthood to get an abortion for any reason she may have. After all, we on the outside will not ever know all that may go into a woman's decision to get an abortion, and I trust women to be able to make that decision for themselves.

That said, Planned Parenthood does not necessarily equal abortion either. Planned Parenthood provides a number of services that are vital (1) for the public health, (2) for quality of life, (3) for people who may be uncomfortable getting a test through a different channel, &c.

So, in response to the protester, no, I was not there for a friend. I was there for myself, and beyond that it is none of their business. It is none of their business what I or anyone else might want to do with our bodies. It is none of their business what medical tests or procedures I should choose to have. If I was there for a friend I would be saddened by the fact that my friend would have to wade through such flagrant misunderstandings in order to receive medical attention.

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