Planned Parenthood is not pro-life

A few weeks back, many Portland State students were surprised to see the campus littered with countless pink crosses.

Many students seemed perplexed, others simply ignored the display and a few expressed their dissatisfaction by knocking over the posters and pulling out the crosses.

The Campus Public Safety Office was called, and they stood by actively monitoring the scene. Tensions were high, and the display stirred many emotions from both those who happened to pass by and the people running the display.

I won’t beat around the bush. In short, I am pro-life. You can often hear me repeating the all-encompassing platitude of supporting life “from the womb to the tomb.” I don’t hesitate to express my views, and while I was initially put off by the display, I was happy it was there.

While the display was extremely confrontational, it was effective in inspiring dialogue—a dialogue that seldom seems to happen here on the PSU campus.

On a campus with very socially liberal leanings, certain issues are treated in a fairly tongue-in-cheek way, and there is this unspoken assumption that there’s a general consensus. Most people are shocked when they find people voicing a pro-life message here.

The display itself directly targeted Planned Parenthood in an attempt to challenge the notion that Planned Parenthood is there to support women.

The large banners contained nothing more than figures straight from Planned Parenthood’s annual report and quotes from former Planned Parenthood employees and clinic directors.

The 915 crosses in the grass represented the average amount of abortions conducted on a daily basis by Planned Parenthood.

The overall message of the display was that Planned Parenthood’s main profit margin comes from conducting abortions, not from providing services or health care to women.

As far as the moral question of abortion goes, at the end of the day, abortion appears to be Planned Parenthood’s main line of business. They don’t provide mammograms, as their president has falsely claimed, they got rid of their prenatal care program a few years back, and they only make one adoption referral for every 145 abortions conducted.

In 2011, $150 million in revenue came from 333,965 abortions performed at Planned Parenthoods all across the nation.

People often claim that Planned Parenthood is the only place for women to access reproductive health services, but in truth nearly all of the services that Planned Parenthood claims to offer (aside from abortion), usually can be found at nearly 8,000 nationwide taxpayer-funded community health centers—usually at lower prices.

So aside from abortion services, Planned Parenthood doesn’t seem to have much to offer women in the way of health services.

This is probably why countless clinics across the United States are closing their doors. According to the Oregonian, this includes three out of nine here in Oregon. This series of closures isn’t caused by anti-abortion legislation but rather has been cited as a lack of clientele. The locations here in Oregon said they experienced a 30 percent drop in clientele.

Maybe if Planned Parenthood lived up to the reputation they set for themselves as champions of women’s health, they wouldn’t be struggling financially.

I myself spent some time by the display and had a few discussions with people about the issues. Some of them weren’t productive because many of the people who were upset found throwing a tantrum and messing up the display to be a more effective way to voice their disapproval than engaging in dialogue.

In the conversations I did have, I was quick to explain the pro-life message in a language people are more open to.
I feel as though when most people hear the term “pro-life,” they immediately imagine the usual media portrayal of some ignorant conservative mad about Obama aborting babies so he can use them in his socialist army.

Most people are shocked to find that the pro-life message and stance encompasses much more than just abortion. It’s about promoting a culture of life in every aspect of society.

Too often I hear people cite economic factors, lack of access to education and other social circumstances to justify abortion.

People forget, though, that these are issues which are larger than pro-choice politics and can’t be solved with abortion.

Once, I was tabling with the Students for Life club to raise money to buy diapers for teen moms, and we were mocked and argued with, and people blatantly refused to support us because they were pro-choice.

This is something that is all too common from this pro-choice versus pro-life rhetoric. All it does is cause fighting and fails to help those who really need support and advocacy such as teen moms, impoverished single parents and those who are trying to create a better world for children to be born into.

I will admit that the pro-life movement has failed to convey a more egalitarian support of all forms of life, but I think the message is changing.

Making sure families are fed is a pro-life issue, making sure people have equal and fair access to health care is a pro-life issue, ending all forms of unnecessary death is a pro-life issue, poverty is a pro-life issue and war is a pro-life issue.

However, if we can’t achieve something as fundamentally intrinsic as the right for an infant to experience life, how can we expect to get the rest right?

I don’t support Planned Parenthood for many reasons. For one, they don’t provide the services they claim to provide, and they treat women merely as customers to make a profit. Secondly, their primary source of profit comes from abortions, something I am ethically opposed to as a humanist. Thirdly, because Planned Parenthood does nothing to offer services to those who make an equally tough choice: to choose life in a difficult situation.

I know a few pink crosses and a banner won’t change people’s minds or hearts, but I invite those who were upset at what they saw to engage in a dialogue that doesn’t attack others or paint people as ignorant or stupid, and actually seeks to find solutions that promote the dignity of human life.