Time for a ceasefire. by Rochelle Sterling

The federal government doesn’t care about your birth control. They don’t care about AIDS and STD testing. They don’t care about your general reproductive health.  Not enough to continue helping you pay for it, anyway.

Planned Parenthood is once again facing significant cuts in funding from the federal government. As the budget battle continues, the problem with the proposed cuts is rooted much deeper than the argument of Roe v. Wade. The fact is, abortion isn’t the only service provided by Planned Parenthood.

Centers across the country offer family planning services, but this is a small percentage of their total business. Abortion, for example, only makes up 5 percent, while contraception, cancer screenings, sex education and other general reproductive services comprise 95 percent. These services promote positive women’s health and help to combat diseases, many of which can be fatal or lead to infertility.

Legislation cutting hundreds of millions of dollars in funding would simply appease the anti-abortion lawmakers and leave those who use the other benefits of Planned Parenthood centers by the wayside. Reproductive health issues affect women of all ages and ethnicities, but are generally the main concern of young women. College age women need education and protection against sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. In fact, one in every four college students has an STD, and most of don’t even know it. Young women depend on Planned Parenthood for the low-cost, confidential care providers at the centers offer.

Planned Parenthood has always been a strong political voice defending the importance of women’s reproductive health. According to Huffington Post, both Democrats and Republicans are lacking flexibility regarding this matter. As a counselor at one of Planned Parenthood New York’s Manhattan centers put it, “Lawmakers have to realize that this isn’t just putting the ‘pro-life’ against ‘pro-choice’. Women depend on us to keep track of their reproductive and general health.”

About 6,000 people rallied last month near City Hall in New York City in support of continued funding for Planned Parenthood centers all over the country.  Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, warned that the health of millions of women who depend on their services would be neglected if the proposed cuts are approved. “These proposals would undermine their health, putting them at risk for undiagnosed cancers,” she said.

Defunding Planned Parenthood would affect all 800+ centers around the country. “These proposals will not create jobs, or reduce the deficit or fix the economy,” Richards contended.

In fact, the proposed cuts would threaten the sustainability of Planned Parenthood centers that serve the local communities that depend on them. Those that can afford to stay open will have to cut their staff significantly. The closure of centers will also lead to an influx of new patients at local hospitals, says Planned Parenthood of Northern New England President and CEO Steve Trombley, Melissa Lee, former manager of advocacy programs of Planned Parenthood of New York City, offered a dose of reality. “The New York City Department of Health estimates that 800,000 women would lose vital services…contract STDs, and more would face unplanned pregnancy if this passes,” Lee warned.

The threat of Planned Parenthood losing its federal funding is real, much like the rising number of STDs, unwanted pregnancies, and undiagnosed terminal cancers. While the US economy slowly crawls its way out of $1.2 trillion deficit, certain public programs must be cut. However, the cuts can be made in other places, as Republican senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts argued in favor of continued funding for Planned Parenthood.

It’s about time we start using viral social media outlets to support causes that affect us all. Lee stressed the importance of exercising “power in numbers. We’ve got to keep on making noise. Contact your Senator, write to your local paper, and go towww.istandwithplannedparenthood.org.”

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