From a young age, my family taught me that women are just as important as men and that women ought to have the right to choose. Furthermore, they taught me that all people should have access to accurate medical education, though I thought that should go without saying. As I grew up, I saw more of the world and the way people treat each other, and became progressively more liberal. Likewise, my fellow classmates and peers became more conservative. In the years leading up to high school, I learned to keep my mouth shut about political disagreements, as I knew I didn’t fully understand every aspect of these issues yet. Entering high school, however, I gained more perspective and learned to do the opposite. I started confronting opinions I fundamentally disagreed with, and by then I was educated enough to form a rational and socially conscious argument. This mindset led me to wholeheartedly support the Planned Parenthood organization.
This organization has been vilified by politicians, pro-life groups, and fundamentalists for offering abortions. I can argue all day about this one: Children shouldn’t be born into circumstances where they are not properly cared for and provided for. Women should have control over their own bodies. Male politicians have no place making this decision for the women comprising half the U.S. population. Abortion is not an inherently evil thing. Nonetheless, these beliefs are not widely appreciated, especially in a small, midwestern South Dakota community. A far more important point to make is that Planned Parenthood does not promote abortions; it offers them as an option after all other options have failed. Many people in South Dakota fail to understand that. Planned Parenthood promotes responsible medical and sexual education, along with affordable medical care.
It has been proven time and time again that the most effective way to reduce abortions is to educate young adults on the risks of unprotected sex and to inform them of what contraceptive methods are effective and available. Encouraging safety is every bit as important as encouraging abstinence, and twice as relevant. More people should care about delivering accurate, relevant information to teens. Ultimately, Planned Parenthood directly contributes to lowering abortion rates more than any other organization.
I have witnessed the uncomfortable bias of the small-town health class condemning abortions. Oddly enough, I was the only one offended by it. Most students don’t understand the complexity of pro-choice goals and viewpoints. They also might not understand that Planned Parenthood interests lie in many aspects of health, trying to ensure that everyone receives the care they deserve. Having been educated in an open-minded household, I feel that it is essential for young women such as myself to speak up for our values and rights, such as those represented by Planned Parenthood. As a sixteen-year-old, I hope that my voice carries weight. After all, my future still hangs in the balance. I chose to volunteer with this organization because I believe in what it stands for, and, contrary to popular belief, it does not just stand for abortion. It stands for much, much more.
--Jess is a high school student who has become an active PPMNS volunteer in the last year.--