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Op-Ed: I Support Planned Parenthood

On Jan. 24, The Unofficial Stanford Blog posted a picture of me handing out free condoms in White Plaza to celebrate the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Excited to share the news, I sent out the link to family and friends. Within a half an hour, I received a reply from my mom: “Oh well, I guess my daughter won’t be president.”

Like the photo of President Obama smoking marijuana in college, the photo of me in a t-shirt that says, “I am Pro-Choice” could lose me a nice chunk of the country’s vote. Women’s reproductive rights have been the subject of ongoing debate since forever. But today, this issue deserves our attention because the efficacy of one of the most important healthcare providers to women across America is at stake.

Four bills — most prominently, the Title X Abortion Provider Prohibition Act introduced by Representative Mike Pence (R-IN) — recently passed by the House of Representatives, dared to cut funds from health care providers that also provide abortion care with private funds. Never mind that federal funding does not directly fund abortions. Apparently, it’s even too dangerous to let organizations like Planned Parenthood, that provide a myriad of other crucial health care services to women, receive any federal support at all.

In 2009, three million women visited one of Planned Parenthood’s 800 healthcare centers. Those women received not only family planning counseling and contraception, but also breast and pelvic exams, lifesaving cervical cancer screenings, STI exams and postpartum care. For six out of every 10 of those women, centers like Planned Parenthood were their only source of healthcare of any kind, not just a convenient place to grab a free condom. That’s because 85 percent of them live right at the poverty line, and two-thirds lack health insurance.

On that sunny morning in White Plaza, I would often stuff two or three condoms into the hands of a passerby, but I knew that at Stanford, condoms aren’t hard to find. We are so lucky to have services like the Sexual Health Peer Resource Center, the Women’s Community Center and Vaden Health Center that provide many of the same services as Planned Parenthood to students on campus. But not everyone goes to Stanford.

Stanford students often think that because the campus is overwhelmingly liberal, participating in activism on behalf of reproductive health issues is unnecessary. This is not the case. It’s time for students at our university to get over our obsession with the Stanford bubble and pick up the phone. As the vote goes into the Senate, we must let our elected representatives know how we feel about this issue. Pick up the phone and call your senator. Pick up the phone and call your parents and tell them to call their senators. Leave a message. It takes 30 seconds.

President Obama was elected even though he smoked pot. I’m okay giving up my dream of becoming president if it means that millions of women around the world are guaranteed the life-saving health services that they deserve.

Natalie Goodis ‘11

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