Planned Parenthood creates a dialogue around the long-tabooed topic of sex. These services are essential to open the subject and inform people about safe methods.By Megan Flox-Lambert
Americans have the highest rate of sexually transmitted infections and teen pregnancies of any industrialized nation. In the United States, 19 million new sexually transmitted infections are contracted each year, according to the Center for Disease Control.
Despite such sobering statistics, attempts are being made to cut federal funding for Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides education and services that fight the spread of sexually transmitted infections and the proliferation of teen pregnancies.
Planned Parenthood and local organizations like this university’s Student Health Services counter the ignorant sexual practices and naïve sexual attitudes that create these serious problems.
Locally, Planned Parenthood of Orem offers contraception in many forms priced on a sliding scale so costs can fit all budgets, including the limited budgets of students.
The highest price charged for birth control pills at Planned Parenthood is $48.00, which includes an initial consultation, and $18.00 per month thereafter. These prices may, however, be lower for many, depending on individual financial circumstances. Pills can be dispensed at Planned Parenthood directly so there is no need to make a trip to the pharmacy. Intrauterine devices are also available at sliding scale pricing, the maximum cost being $488.00 for a 5-year implantation or $328.00 for a 3-year implantation. Similarly, birth control rings, injections and patches are available at income-specific pricing. Condoms, taken at three or fewer, are free and the morning after pill costs $30.00 or less.
Planned Parenthood provides education about body image and sexual identity, as well as information for parents and educators who want to discuss sexuality or sexual health with families and students. Some Planned Parenthood facilities provide abortion services, while others, like the Orem location, only make referrals. Contrary to common belief, federal funds are not used to perform abortion services at Planned Parenthood.
Student Health Services, located in SC 221, is another great resource for sexual health and overall well-being.
Although SHS’s birth control options are limited to the birth control pill or ring, prescriptions are only $10.00 per month and $40.00 for an initial pap smear, if needed. These prescriptions must be taken to a pharmacy. Pregnancy tests cost between $8.00 and $20.00 and basic health exams are just $10.00. SHS, like Planned Parenthood, provides these services in a confidential manner and seeks to provide reliable, honest information to all its patients.
Clearly, Planned Parenthood and Student Health Services are providing vital services and information. It is time for governing bodies to embrace the power and efficacy of these types of programs and back them up with proper funding and support. Otherwise, uninformed sexuality will continually be expressed through widespread sexual disease and unplanned pregnancy.
Sexual problems extend far past the moral realm and it is time to address them instead as matters of public health and safety. When fully funded and supported on local and national levels, organizations like Planned Parenthood can have a positive impact. They must be given the opportunity to be an expanding part of a candid national diologue about sexual health. Smaller programs like Student Health Services simply cannot accomplish it alone.