By Elanie Paredes
Planned Parenthood constantly makes headlines, but especially lately its been a hot topic in political debates. This past summer Planned Parenthood was attacked once again by an anti-abortion group. The attacks were “part of a decade-long campaign by anti-abortion extremists deceiving the public, making false charges, and terrorizing patients and their doctors, all in order to ban abortion and cut people off from care at Planned Parenthood” said a Planned Parenthood representative. Clearly, the intentions of the anti-abortion extremists were to take down Planned Parenthood, thus removing life saving services from people who need it the most.
Planned Parenthood serves all people regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, income, or immigration status. Some of their services include cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, contraception, and yes, abortion! Planned Parenthood is also involved with its local communities. They provide education services through their peer educators program, by partnering with schools, and through a variety of initiatives. Lastly, Planned Parenthood is an advocacy organization. With about 7 million activists, donors, and supporters Planned Parenthood “advocates for policies at the federal and state levels that would advance comprehensive reproductive health care and responsible decision making." Planned Parenthood has served more than 5 million people worldwide, with women of color being the largest group served. So next time someone tells you that Planned Parenthood should be defunded, remind them of the life-saving care they would be removing from people worldwide, specifically women of color.
To clarify, Planned Parenthood is a reproductive health and rights organization not a reproductive justice organization. This means they specifically focus on necessary reproductive health services and gaining constitutionally framed legal protections for those services. Reproductive justice on the other hand “stipulates that reproductive oppression is the result of the intersections of multiple oppressions and cannot be alleviated without strategies to address them all,” according the organization's New York City affiliate. Planned Parenthood is not an RJ organization, but it has taken on the RJ framework to its approaches. This means that different experiences and a variety of identities are taken into account when talking about gaining reproductive justice. If you’re interested in joining the RJ movement and fighting for reproductive health rights, check out your local Planned Parenthood. There are Planned Parenthood health centers located in each borough in NYC.
Something I’ve noticed after joining the RJ movement is that many people are afraid to talk about their bodies and sex. Of course, this is taboo because for some reason society has labeled the two as “improper” or “forbidden.” If you are this person who is plagued by the taboo of wanting to talk about sex or your body, but you feel that you can’t, I ask you to challenge yourself. If this is something that has held you back, you will only find freedom by embracing your body. Give your body the care it needs, whether that is going to gym, drinking more water, meditating, or taking a trip to Planned Parenthood.
I learned about sex at a pretty early age, and my knowledge of it was always kept secret from my parents. It was something I just whispered and laughed about with my friends until the day came when I actually wanted to have sex. I was not really sure what to do or who to turn to because I was too afraid to talk about it. I was plagued by the taboo. I needed support and I wasn’t comfortable talking about sex or my body. Needless to say, this is an experience many women go through and is unnecessary.
Organizations like Planned Parenthood provide us with the platform to have these conversations and to understand our rights. Breaking down the taboo means more people will be able to freely make the right choices for their bodies because they will receive the support they need. You can start to break down this barrier by looking inwards. Self love and appreciation will not only make you happier about embracing your body but others will notice the difference too. Once you show society that you’re no longer intimidated by the social norms they have imposed upon you, others will follow. It takes courage, support, and self love to begin the shift from silence to acceptance. But when it is achieved all people will benefit from a happier and healthier lifestyle. Surround yourself with positive people, take a break from work to watch some Netflix, learn something new, make an appointment at Planned Parenthood for a regular check up. Of course we are all strong, bold, Barnard women and part of that means knowing your reproductive rights and practicing self care, so make the effort and take the extra step.
Models: Imani Randolph, Summer Payton, Jillian Johnson
Photographer: Sharon Wu
Art Direction: Carina Hardy