Reproductive Health

Summer Attacks on Choice Could Hurt Campus Safety

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It was a long tough summer for Planned Parenthood as opponents went beyond targeting abortion and started in on birth control. Krystie Yandoli says this harms rape survivors and the cause of safe sex.

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Supporting Effective Programs

In a positive move, in October 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services awarded $155 million to states, nonprofit organizations, school districts and universities to support programs already proven effective in combating teen pregnancy.

That's a smart alternative to the Bush administration's abstinence-only education policy.

The attack on Planned Parenthood is abstinence-only policy by other means and some college students are "just saying no" to that.

At Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., for instance, a student group has created a Youtube video of students holding signs that read, "I have sex," "I use birth control" and "I've been tested." The text at the end of the video encourages cutting corporate entitlements, such as tax subsidies for lucrative multinational oil companies, and saving Planned Parenthood.

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While there aren't any handy statistics to show the extent to which college women are saved from unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases because of free contraception attained from a local Planned Parenthood, it's common knowledge on campuses how crucial that can be.

"To whatever extent college students are relying on Planned Parenthood, the defunding sends a clear message to those students: your bodies and your sexual health is not important," Jaclyn Friedman, co-editor of the anthology "Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Empowerment Without Rape" said in an e-mail interview.

'On Your Own'

If you need information, counseling or medical care, you're on your own now, added Friedman.

"In a culture that already isolates and stigmatizes rape victims, that message -- not to mention the loss of access to a variety of physical and mental health services crucial to victims in the aftermath of an assault -- is beyond unfortunate. It's immoral," she said.

When the funding allocated for Planned Parenthoods is eliminated from a state's budget, it doesn't necessarily mean they're closed for business, though their services do appear to be hurt by cuts.

Depending on the individual state's situation, some Planned Parenthoods will be in danger of closing and some will receive less funding and as a result, less services, but will remain open.

New Jersey has led the way on state slashing of Planned Parenthood allocations, eliminating $7.5 million in family planning from its budget, according to an April 2011 study by the state's Planned Parenthood. As such, the state provides a snapshot of what might lie ahead for other states.

As Women's eNews has reported before, New Jersey Planned Parenthood's website reports six of their clinics have closed and predicts 35,000 fewer patients will be served in 2011 in comparison to the 131,000 patients served in 2010. The remaining 52 New Jersey clinics have cut back on hours and fired staff.


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Krystie Lee Yandoli is a freelance writer and student at Syracuse University.

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