What I Think of the Planned Parenthood Debate (As Someone Not From the U.S.)

What I Think of the Planned Parenthood Debate (As Someone Not From the U.S.)

Until this year, I had no idea what Planned Parenthood (PP) was. This might seem crazy to a lot of Americans, that a 19-year-old girl wasn’t aware of the amazing services that Planned Parenthood provide.

I live in the U.K., where we can access all the information we need about sex, relationships, and sexual health for free and in most schools, colleges, and surgeries. In England, we see the U.S. as a distant land that’s miles ahead of us in every way. Yet, to my surprise, when it comes to sex education and birth control, Americans seem to be pretty far behind. From what I can tell online, a large amount of American teens are getting a sex education that is based around abstinence, which seems insane to me. Everyone deserves the right to knowledge about how their body works.


What is even more ridiculous, in my opinion, is that this crucial organization is in danger of being taken away from so many women all over the U.S. Anti-abortion groups have been accusing doctors and nurses that work for PP with all kinds of false statements, and there’ve been a few heavily edited videos thrown into the mix to distort the message of PP. The worst thing about this? Some of the supporters of these anti-Planned Parenthood groups are in positions of political power.

What strikes me the most about this is that many of the groups are against Planned Parenthood because they provide abortions, yet abortions are just one of the many things that PP offer. When I started to research Planned Parenthood, the first place I went was their website, which was so informative about all kinds of topics, and I’m honestly not sure where else women can access these resources in the U.S. From what I can see online, women all over the U.S. are so passionate about protecting Planned Parenthood because they know the terrifying consequences of letting this organization fade away.

I never knew how lucky I was just to have access to modern sex education and to be able to walk into whatever general practitioner or sexual health clinic I wish to get the birth control I need. If I ever needed an abortion, I wouldn’t be shamed. There wouldn’t be people protesting and telling me I’m wrong as I walk into a clinic. This is another thing that I find scary about these protest groups: No woman takes the decision to get an abortion lightly, and many women explain it to be a completely stressful and haunting experience. So imagine, as you walk into the procedure to have an abortion, there are people shouting at you, telling you you’re a killer. I’d be intrigued to know how the protesters think it will affect them. As much as I think you should always stand up for and stick by your beliefs, I think it’s still important to be sensitive about how you say it.

I’m not claiming that how these issues are handled in the U.K. are perfect, and I know for a fact that the sex education given in U.K. schools could be updated – a mention of consent wouldn’t hurt, and maybe some coverage of same-sex relationships would be beneficial. But at least it’s deemed essential that young people understand their sexual health, how it’s up to every person to make sure they are protected from STIs and pregnancy, and how to have safe sexual relationships. I don’t see how an abstinence-only approach can help young people to understand that sex is part of a healthy romantic relationship.

The most important thing is that young people are fully educated so they can make the right choice to suit them about their birth control methods and whether or not they’re ready to be parents. I urge you to #StandWithPP, as it’s provides essential services to so many women. I can’t imagine living somewhere where my birth control provider was under threat, and no woman should have to deal with this. Planned Parenthood educates so many young people with information that they wouldn’t be able to get elsewhere. Everyone is entitled to an understanding his or her own body, so let’s make sure every person can actually get educated.

Cover image courtesy of Shutterstock.