Planned Parenthood. The name of the nation’s most controversial reproductive health care center. A place that is shamed, because of one of the many services it provides, and seen as a problematic facility that is only for people of, “low income,” or for people who are, “sexually provocative.”
When a majority of people think of Planned Parenthood, an organization that has been around for over 100 years, this is what they think of.
These negative connotations around Planned Parenthood stem from the unpopular opinions of people who do not agree with what is going on in the health center. However, if you were to ask these people what Planned Parenthood actually does, they would not know much.
The stigma surrounding Planned Parenthood needs to be broken. The only way this can happen is by accurately educating others on what actually goes on at Planned Parenthood, and spreading the centers mission and values. Providers, patients, volunteers, and allies of Planned Parenthood work tirelessly to protect and educate others on what Planned Parenthood does and what it stands for.
So, to understand Planned Parenthood in a nutshell, we look to their mission statement. Planned Parenthood’s mission and values can be broken down in four ways:
- To provide comprehensive reproductive and complementary health care services in settings which preserve and protect the essential privacy and rights of each individual
- To advocate public policies which guarantee these rights and ensure access to such services
- To provide educational programs which enhance understanding of individual and societal implications of human sexuality
- To promote research and the advancement of technology in reproductive health care and encourage understanding of their inherent bioethical, behavioral, and social implications (Parenthood, Planned)
Comprehensive reproductive health care, advocacy, education, and research. The four main pillars that make up the nations most trusted reproductive health care provider. Each of these categories can be broken down in many ways to describe what Planned Parenthood does. However, the most important is the high-quality and affordable health care that is open to all demographics.
What a lot of people may not know is that Planned Parenthood offers services for GYN, preventative, and problem based care. These services consist of pap smears, breast exams, HPV vaccinations, UTI treatment, and so much more. What is so amazing about all of these services is that you can get them all done in one appointment. Every experience at Planned Parenthood is unique, because the provider is there to help and care for your needs. You will never be treated like just a patient, but an individual who is trying to better their reproductive health.
Three services that are very popular at Planned Parenthood are birth control, emergency contraception, STI and pregnancy testing. Planned Parenthood offers at least nine different types of birth control. Finding the right birth control for your body can be challenging. However, providers at Planned Parenthood will work with you to find the best method for your needs, and your body. (side note: I’ve personally been to Planned Parenthood three different times within the course of a year to find the right type of birth control for me. Now, I have an IUD, and it is the best decision I have ever made!)
Also, emergency contraception is a super important service that more people need to know about. It’s so important, because if you need EC, you can just walk into a health center and get it! There’s three different types of EC: the ParaGuard IUD (which you cannot walk in and get), Ella (which you can walk in and get a prescription for), and a form of Plan B (which you can walk in and get). Again, EC is something that is different for every person, but Planned Parenthood offers different options to help you make the best decision.
Lastly, STI and pregnancy testing are super important services that Planned Parenthood offers. There are so many types of STIs (some I can’t name off the top of my head), and Planned Parenthood tests and treats most of them. The most common STIs they test for are chlamydia and gonorrhea, and both can be treated with a prescription for antibiotics provided by Planned Parenthood. Also, Planned Parenthood does pregnancy testing, and has follow up services, such as prenatal care referrals, if a pregnancy test comes back positive. When going to get checked at Planned Parenthood, these are the three most popular tests they’ll ask if you want to get. My recommendation is that if you can afford the tests, take them!
One of the most important services that Planned Parenthood provides is counseling and referral, and it does just what it sounds like. There are counselors at Planned Parenthood that can help guide you to make an important decision, and get the education you need. If you’re unsure about something that is happening to your body, you can call or text a counselor, and they will help you to feel more at ease with your body and mind. Counselors can confidentially discuss parenting, testing, sexual health, and so much more. After having a conversation with a counselor, they’ll help you decide if you want to visit a health center, or refer you to somewhere else if Planned Parenthood does not provide the service you need, or if going somewhere else it is more convenient for you. More people should use this non-judgmental service, even if you’re just concerned about something little like a cramp or your mental health.
I know, I know, this was super painful to get through, but it’s all important information… and it’s also just the beginning. Planned Parenthood offers so much for a reproductive health center. They are passionate about care, education, advocacy, and much more. In these hard times, Planned Parenthood needs as many allies as it can get, and all of the positive recognition it can get.
I want to live in a world where people do not have to feel ashamed to talk about or attend Planned Parenthood. Don’t you?
For more information you can go to: Planned Parenthood
For volunteer information please go to: Get Involved
To Donate: Click Here
To contact me: firstname.lastname@example.org (Special Projects Intern at Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts)
Please check out your states local Planned Parenthood affiliate, and support!
Words by Jessica Sanchez