I choose to stand with Planned Parenthood
Published: Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, July 20, 2011 17:07
Imagine that you are standing in between two opposing groups.
The first group, dressed in orange volunteer vests, stands quietly by the main entrance of a local health clinic. This health clinic provides reproductive care for women, men and teens at an extremely discounted rate. They offer an array of services to the community, including the testing and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, cancer screenings and access to contraception—including free condoms.
Yes, this health clinic does provide abortion services, but it should be noted that these services only make up 3 percent of what this clinic does. Indeed, it can be said that this clinic works very hard to prevent the need for abortions through educating clients on all methods of birth control, including abstinence.
On the opposing side, surrounding the clinic, are active protesters from across the country, practicing their First Amendment right to speak freely. This group holds obscene signs with images of bloody, stillborn babies. They wear shirts printed with religious rhetoric and attempt to take photographs of those who walk in, out and around the health clinic. They are well-equipped with a sound system and sing faith-based songs while simultaneously demanding those who utilize the clinic's services repent immediately. They are pro-lifers, more commonly known to many of us as anti-choicers.
As you might have assumed, the first aforementioned group is Planned Parenthood, one of the nation's leading providers of reproductive health care services. One in four women has visited a Planned Parenthood health center in her lifetime. Here in Florida, Planned Parenthood provides close to 53,000 patients with birth control every year, along with nearly 14,000 emergency contraception kits. With two locations in Orlando, Planned Parenthood has evolved into becoming a major community source for reproductive health and education.
The group protesting its existence is known as Operation Save America. This group is well known for their long history of opposing a woman's right to choose, fighting against gay rights and spreading vicious anti-Muslim hatred. This group preaches non-violence, and yet they have been accused of being involved in many violent crimes. Indeed, the National Abortion Federation has stated that throughout the last 20 years, anti-choice groups, including OSA, have been responsible for six murders and 15 attempted murders of abortion providers. They have also been behind some 200 bombings and arsons, 72 attempted arsons, 750 death and bomb threats and hundreds of acts of vandalism, intimidation, stalking and burglary.
I told you initially to imagine being in the center of these two opposing groups, but you won't need your imagination; believe it or not, OSA is protesting abortion centers, LGBT centers and mosques right here in the city of Orlando. They chose the City Beautiful as the location for their 2011 national conference because they thought they would find support here. With five anti-choice bills passed by the Florida Legislature, that notion should not be surprising. Though I cannot deny that this group has passion, I absolutely despise their motivation and tactics. How can a group who practices their First Amendment right to free speech deny a woman's right to choose? How can a group who preaches love be filled with so much hate?
By no means do I intend to downsize the importance of faith in one's life. However, groups like OSA do not give religion a good name. In contrast, their use of religion to manipulate followers and cause chaos is both unnecessary and a true example of the problems that stem from extremism.
With all of this taken into consideration, I leave the decision to you: who do you stand with?
Personally, when I find myself placed on a line between rationality and extreme subjectivity, it's easy to choose which side I want to stand with. This is why I stand with Planned Parenthood.