Planned Parenthood Empowers Students

Posted December 11, 2015 by Christina Tudor

Photo Credit: Flickr/CreativeCommons
This piece was first published by The Ithaca Journal on December 8th by YP4 ’14 Christina Tudor. It’s republished here to uplift her powerful organizing in upstate New York.

Planned Parenthood provides critical health care services to all kinds of people across the United States regardless of their ability to pay. That care is even more valuable for low-income women, many of whom rely on Planned Parenthood to access breast exams, cancer screenings, STI testing and birth control—even if they have difficulty paying for those services.

Despite this, late Thursday night the Senate voted to pass the Budget Reconciliation bill, which would repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act and defund Planned Parenthood’s Title X funding for a year. For too long, Planned Parenthood has been heavily politicized and misrepresented by anti-abortion attacks. It’s time we focus on the larger issue: our government is trying to stop poor people, people of color, and young people from accessing necessary services through Planned Parenthood.

Where I attend college in Ithaca, N.Y., if our local affiliate, Planned Parenthood of the Southern Lakes were to close, there would only be one Title X clinic left to serve four counties. It would leave the 11,000 patients that the organization serves annually—many of whom live in rural, underserved communities—without care and without a nearby clinic; some would have to travel more than 60 miles.

This is not okay. It’s 2015. People deserve to make their own decisions about their bodies and reproductive health.

This also hurts students. As a student, this is what Planned Parenthood means to me:

When I scroll through my Facebook newsfeed and see articles like: “CDC Sees ‘Alarming Increase in Sexually Transmitted Diseases,” it’s clear that we need to invest in sex education and family planning. Instead, legislators are hung up on defunding the very organization that provides the exact services that help people make informed sexual health choices.

This means a lot to young people like myself who need honest education and quality health care so they can finish their degrees, get a fulfilling job, and choose to parent (or not parent) when they’re ready. Planned Parenthood helps students access care—like birth control and STI screenings for free or at low cost if they don’t have insurance or the financial means. Planned Parenthood gives students autonomy over their bodies and choices—and that’s empowering.

Being an activist for Planned Parenthood has helped me own my body, my choices and my voice. Before starting college, I had almost no idea what Planned Parenthood actually was.

What people don’t know is Planned Parenthood doesn’t just provide health care, they also work in education and advocacy.

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By chance, I ended up meeting someone from my local affiliate during my first few weeks of college at an event on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. She was looking for volunteers and I was looking for a way to get more involved in my community. I’m a completely different person because of it.

Planned Parenthood helped me learn about larger inequalities that exist in our society, find the courage to stand up and organize around these issues, speak up against anti-choice legislation and realize that my voice matters in this fight for reproductive freedom.

There many people like me who are grateful for Planned Parenthood—and together, we will not stop fighting for it.