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Here’s why Planned Parenthood is important to moms

Claire Zulkey wonders when she'll ever get used to the idea that she has two boys. She is the author of two books for young people, An Off Year and Best Frenemies. She and her filmmaker husband live in Evanston, IL. You can find out more...

A controversial but necessary organization turns 100

Planned Parenthood reached a milestone yesterday, marking 100 years since Margaret Sanger opened America’s first birth-control clinic in Brooklyn.

More: 25 celebs who support Planned Parenthood

Undoubtedly, many people have already skipped to the comment section of this post to declare that Planned Parenthood is an abomination since it provides abortions. But Planned Parenthood provides much more than pregnancy termination services — its existence is something that moms everywhere should support. Here’s why:

  • Planned Parenthood provides essential women’s health exams. Critics of Planned Parenthood sometimes portray the organization like a drive-thru that provides abortions for careless women. However, Planned Parenthood provides more than 270,000 Pap tests and more than 360,000 breast exams a year, which are key to detecting cancer. Cancer does not discriminate, and being a mother certainly does not make one immune. Affordable breast exams and Paps means more children will have mothers that live longer.
  • Planned Parenthood provides reproductive health care and education to everyone — nearly 5 million women, men and adolescents worldwide a year. Not all children grow up in homes where parents are willing and able to provide accurate sexual health information to their children (let alone attend schools where it’s taught.) While you may not need this type of health care and education, your child — or your child’s future sexual partners — may. It is a matter of public health that our children grow up in a country where they know the facts about their bodies and have the means to take the best possible care of them.
  • Planned Parenthood helps ensure healthy pregnancies. Planned Parenthood is a friend to many nascent families, offering low-cost prenatal care and testing, services that are just as, if not more important to at-risk and low-income women. All pregnant women deserve access to adequate medical care, and not just because that access results in healthier children.
  • Planned Parenthood helps prevent unwanted pregnancies. According to its site, while 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s health services are abortions, 80 percent of its services are preventive. Whether anti-abortion or pro-abortion rights, most would agree that a prevented pregnancy is preferable to an unplanned one. Birth control is as of high importance to mothers as it is to childless women. As the Guttmacher Institute states, “Women’s ability to obtain and effectively use contraceptives has a positive impact on their education and workforce participation, as well as on subsequent outcomes related to income, family stability, mental health and happiness, and children’s well-being.” Not all of us can pay out of pocket for IUDs, the pill or vasectomies, however, which is why Planned Parenthood’s work is so important.

I’m a supporter of Planned Parenthood, not just with my words but with my money as well. The funny thing is, I’ve never actually stepped foot inside one. But I sure am glad they’re around, and hope they live to see another 100 years.

More: I went to Planned Parenthood, but it wasn't for an abortion

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