This is another post not typical for the content of my blog. But I must speak out with my concerns about Planned Parenthood – not so much about Planned Parenthood itself (although I have serious problems with them) but the way that Planned Parenthood is presented and defended by their supporters. I was a Registered Nurse for 18 years, so healthcare issues particularly concern me. Why do so many defenders of Planned Parenthood portray them as providing services that they do NOT actually offer?
- The current President of the US (Obama), beauty contestants, celebrities, and everyday people have stated that women rely on Planned Parenthood for their mammograms. Uh, Planned Parenthood does NOT do mammograms! Don’t believe me? Get on the phone and start calling Planned Parenthood locations. Planned Parenthood can give a referral for a mammogram, but that is all. Other places can give a referral: family doctors, internists, health departments, and some radiologists will even accept a self-referral. A woman is definitely not stuck without PP for a mammogram.
- I’ve seen it implied that PP is a comprehensive OB-GYN doctor’s office. No. Not even close. Planned Parenthood’s services are limited in scope, mostly related to birth control, STDs, abortion, and detecting (not treating) problems. They do a lot of screenings, basic tests, basic exams, and referrals. Of course, screenings and exams are valuable services. Some treatment is done, directly related to their scope – such as treating an STD or UTI (urinary tract infection). But many GYN problems or other detected diseases must be referred elsewhere. They also do NOT do prenatal care or obstetrics. (Unless you consider ending a pregnancy through abortion to be prenatal care.)
- On that note, I check the Planned Parenthood site from time to time. I recently checked, and was shocked to see a tab that says they offer prenatal care. What?! Has PP changed their model? Nope. Not even close. More deception. The prenatal care services is: pap smear, manual breast exam, STD testing, checking your vital signs, etc. What? This is NOT prenatal care! This is basic care for any woman, pregnant or not. Carefully read and note that much of the info they provide is just that – educational info – telling you what your “healthcare provider” (that means your OB doctor, not PP!) will do for you if pregnant.
- Continuing this train of thought, I’ve seen people defend that PP provides general health care by pointing to the “general health care” link on the PP site. “See, they do provide general health care!” – Uh, really? Read what they offer. It is a few basic screenings and vaccines. As I said above, these are valuable services. If a woman is in for birth control, states she feels tired, and they check for anemia or thyroid problems, and detect low thyroid hormones – this is indeed helpful. But PP can NOT treat the problem, and the woman must be referred to a regular doctor’s office. When most people think of “general health care” – they consider it to be more than a screening but also diagnosis and treatment.
Why do so many defenders of Planned Parenthood portray them as providing services that they do NOT actually offer?
Why not just honestly proclaim that Planned Parenthood’s focus is on birth control, STDs, and abortion?
Why does Planned Parenthood want to give the appearance that they offer prenatal care?
It is true that women have had positive experiences with Planned Parenthood. As I said twice above, Planned Parenthood does have some valuable services. However, I can not recommend Planned Parenthood.
For one…The founder of Planned Parenthood, Margaret Sanger, was an advocate of the eugenics movement, specifically “negative” eugenics – as in promoting birth control and/or sterilization for “undesirable” people such as the poor, uneducated, drunks, and those with certain mental problems or diseases. Some may argue that this is unfair to mention, and PP has moved on from that…yet the history is there and is disconcerting.
And secondly…their whole business model is problematic. One could argue that they actually create a need for their own services. And since PP does abortions and they do not provide OB care – they lose a customer and money when a woman decides to continue her pregnancy. There is not much incentive for PP to encourage this option!
“But, but, but…abortion is only 3% of the services Planned Parenthood offers!” This statistic is completely bogus. Watch this 4 minute video to see it debunked.
Why must Planned Parenthood be deceptive with their statistics?
“But, but, but…if Planned Parenthood is de-funded where will women get their pap smears and manual breast exams? Don’t you care about cancer screening?”
Of course I care about cancer screening. But there is no crisis here. There are only about 700 PP facilities nationwide. 700. ** Think about the size of our country: 50 states, and thousands of urban, suburban, and rural areas. 700 is not many! I live in a small city and there is no PP near me. The closest is 100 miles away in a bigger city. Lots of women already get this care elsewhere. The majority do actually. Planned Parenthood only does 1-2% of female cancer screening.
It is true that if PP closed, some women would lose an accustomed resource. There could be temporary problems. But there is no shortage of options. Nationwide there are thousands of Federally Qualified Health Centers that provide low income women, men, and children with comprehensive health care. There are also county health departments, some of which offer services similar to PP. Not to mention tens of thousands of private and group physicians.
I know PP fills a unique niche. I know their services (which aren’t all bad) have helped some women at certain points in their life. While I know positive experiences can be shared, I will share 2 not-so-positive experiences from people I know personally.
One individual recollected when she was a teen and went to PP suspecting she was pregnant. She had already given the options much thought, and was planning to keep the baby if she was pregnant. PP pushed her hard, very hard, to have an abortion, emphasizing all the difficulties of being a teen mom. This individual said that if it wasn’t for her strong willed personality, she would have been pressured into an abortion.
Another individual recollected when she was single, in her late teens/early twenties, and went to PP for basic gyn care. She was not sexually active but PP counseled her to go on birth control. It was more that that – they pressured her to go on birth control. They told her she would be sexually active. And she took birth control for 2 years even though she was NEVER sexually active in that time! In all irony, when she did meet her husband, they decided to use natural family planning.
Again, consider the PP business model – their scope of services is limited, and they must push the services they do offer – even if it is not what the woman needs or wants. Planned Parenthood has an agenda.
Women deserve better, so much better, than Planned Parenthood.
Consider following “Abby Johnson: ProWoman, ProChild, ProLife” on facebook. She is a former Planned Parenthood employee.
If you have Amazon Prime, you can watch the professional documentary for free: 3801 Lancaster, American Tragedy. While its focus is Kermit Gosnell’s horrific abortion clinic in Philadelphia, the end of it brings in Planned Parenthood. Two former PP employees (nurses) exposed terrible conditions at a Delaware PP, one even drew parallels to Gosnell’s clinic. These 2 nurses remain pro-choice, but spoke out strongly against this Delaware PP clinic. It was unsafe, chaotic, and a literal assembly line to do as many abortions as fast as possible to make $10,000 a day.
Just like these nurses, even if you believe in keeping abortion legal, women deserve an abortion experience that is much better than this one!
Please be pro-woman, not just pro-choice.
**Update, Dec. 2017: The number of PP locations has dropped to about 600.
Laura Droege said:
I’ve never understood some of these arguments, either, Laura. (I hadn’t heard others.) As far as vaccines and health screenings, a lot of pharmacies in my area offer these, sometimes for free. For that matter, Walmart, Kroger, and Publix–all have pharmacies–can administer these vaccines, too. I know several pharmacies have plans to have a walk-in clinic type of place where people can go for the next step up care: colds, mild illnesses, etc.
Is that comprehensive? No. But it’s still available.
Now, I must admit that I’m in an enviable place with my health care and income level. (My husband works for the federal government, so our health care insurance is terrific.) So I can’t speak for the many more people who might not have that type of insurance or ability to pay for needed services. But there are alternatives to PP.
Thanks for your comments Laura. You bring up another good point, some of the general services PP offers are available at pharmacies, stores, health fairs. For that matter, a woman can do a manual breast exam at home for free.
Planned Parenthood can be tricky – you have to carefully read the web site. A quick glance can make it seem like they offer more than they do. With my health care background, I understand and notice terminology quicker.
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