To The Daily Sun,
This letter is in response to Mr. Bob Meade's column of Feb. 6, 2014 entitled "Planned Parenthood: A Government Funded Oxymoron."
Mr. Meade opens his column by pointing out Margaret Sanger, whose work in women's reproductive services paved the way for Planned Parenthood, was a supporter of eugenics. This is true. He goes on to state that her opinions on eugenics were shared by Adolf Hitler. This is false. Ms. Sanger advocated for denying reproduction to the severely disabled ("negative eugenics"), but was outspoken in opposition to Nazi Germany's forced extermination of those Hitler deemed racially impure. While I join Mr. Meade in opposing eugenics, to lump Margaret Sanger and Adolf Hitler together is misleading to say the least.
Mr. Meade's central argument seems to be that Planned Parenthood's mission to provide family planning and health care services is mere pretext to providing abortion services to women who are confronted with an unplanned pregnancy. He assumes (inaccurately) that Planned Parenthood does not counsel patients on all their options concerning contraception, pregnancy, parenting, and adoption in addition to abortion, and argues that the approximately 350,000 abortions provided by Planned Parenthood annually is actually the central focus of the organization, and that the other 10 million services provided are administrative fluff (including staff answering questions over the telephone) not on par with an abortion, which Mr. Meade considers an "outrageous" deception.
Mr. Meade's column prompted me to review Planned Parenthood's 2012-2013 Annual Report (available online). Here is what I learned:
1. Planned Parenthood provided over 3.7 million STI/STD tests and almost 700,000 HIV tests (to both women and men).
2. Contraception services were provided to over 3.7 million people, including emergency contraception to over 1.5 million patients.
3. Planned Parenthood provided over 1.1 million pregnancy tests.
4. Over 1.1 million patients received cancer screening and prevention services, including almost 500,000 pap tests and over 500,000 breast exams. It is estimated that 85,000 women were able to detect their breast cancer early or have other abnormalities addressed because of the screening services Planned Parenthood provided them.
These are critical (and in some cases life-saving) services that are very difficult to perform over the phone. In my mind, Mr. Meade's argument that Planned Parenthood is a de facto government-subsidized abortionist providing other services as window dressing is completely invalid. For many women (and men), Planned Parenthood is a critical provider of information, support, and care, standing by to provide services to those who lack insurance or are afraid to seek support or treatment through their family doctor.
Additionally, Planned Parenthood and our elected officials who support its continued funding do not "literally, throw the unborn under the proverbial bus" as Mr. Meade claims. For one, I don't think it's possible to literally throw anyone (born or unborn) under a proverbial anything. For another, Planned Parenthood and their supporters in government understand there is far more to providing women health care services than abortion, as Planned Parenthood's annual report demonstrates. These are the services our tax dollars help pay for, and they are services that can save, prolong, or improve patients' lives.
Mr. Meade and I fundamentally disagree on the issue whether a woman has the right to make her own health care decisions free from government interference. In my opinion, if a woman makes a choice to terminate a pregnancy after careful consideration of all options available, it should be done safely under the care of competent doctors and nurses, with respect for her life and her constitutional right to privacy. This is the true legacy of Margaret Sanger and all those who have supported Planned Parenthood throughout its history, and I am proud to count myself among them.
Colorado Springs, Colo.