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Snapshot 1: Planned Parenthood Federation of America » Family Planning

Snapshot 1: Planned Parenthood Federation of America

October 16th, 2008 by maggie chen Leave a reply »

For the next few blog entries, I’d like to provide snapshots of organizations who are on the ground, working on the topic of this blog: increasing access to family planning services for women and men (I realize I didn’t include men in the last entry describing the topic, but the truth is that effective family planning involves both men and women).

One organization that I think we sometimes take for granted is Planned Parenthood. PP is largely responsible for providing reproductive health services to people in the US who are uninsured, underinsured, or are unable to use their insurance due to confidentiality reasons. It also is heavily engaged with legislative and policy work (and after McCain’s commentary last night on appointing Supreme Court judges who share his beliefs on abortion, their legal team may become much busier in the future…but hopefully that won’t happen).

If you’re unfamiliar with Planned Parenthood, take a look at these stats:

  • One in four American women has visited a Planned Parenthood health center at least once in her life.
  • Most of PP’s work is about prevention: 81 percent of their clients receive services to prevent unintended pregnancies.
  • Three percent of all PP’s services are abortion services.

Lastly, PP connects small and medium orgs in developing countries with resources and services to improve their communities’ reproductive health. The PP International Program has three priorities: preventing unsafe abortion, protecting the sexual health of adolescents and youth, and advocacy to protect reproductive rights. Out of these priorities, the projects that aim to protect the sexual health of adolescents is most relevant to our blog. Here’s what’s going on in three different regions:

Philippines: Since the government opposes modern family planning, PP is working to provide low-cost contraception directly to young people through peer educators.

Guatemala: PP’s partner organization, Tan Ux’il, provides sexuality education to teens through peer educators, street theater performances, and a radio show. Tan Ux’il generates income for these projects by running a pharmacy that provides contraceptives to adolescents.

India: PP-supported outreach workers attend pre-wedding and newlywed parties to congratulate the couples, provide entertainment that offers a positive sexual health message, and encourage them to delay childbearing until the women is 18. (The median age of marriage is 16).

Planned Parenthood is a major force in the field of reproductive health in the US. I think it’s an interesting idea for an organization that is heavily US-based in terms of its services and advocacy to reach out to those working on reproductive rights in other countries. Perhaps they can contribute what they’ve learned over time in providing comprehensive services and dealing with the government to those who are just starting up a reproductive services network.

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3 comments

  1. mjromano says:

    I think it’s interesting that we both mentioned Planned Parenthood in our second blog, albeit you discussed its current practices and I merely mentioned some of the circumstances of its foundation. I was particularly intrigued by the work PP does in India, and can only begin to imagine the conversations between outreach workers, brides, grooms, family, and wedding guests. You bring up some compelling facts, but I want to challenge you on at one point. I wonder what you mean by “One organization that I think we sometimes take for granted is Planned Parenthood.” I am guilty in my writing just as many other people are of throwing in an omniscient “we,” but in a discussion of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, I wonder if you could unpack that statement a bit. Are we Guatemalans and Americans working together? Because then I’d like to know more about the actual reach of PP in Central America. Or are we just Americans? Because Planned Parenthood clinics fight against strong cultural opposition in the US, and, despite their best efforts, are not accessible to everyone. Anyway, I just thought I might throw a little debate into the blog.

  2. jliebner@stanford.edu says:

    Like Max, I was also intrigued but the work of PP in India, particularly the role of health workers at weddings. I can only imagine someone popping up at my wedding and encouraging me to watch an educational video during the reception! But granted, given that the median age of marriage for girls is only 16 (which is surprisingly low!), such outreach work seems important. As someone who has been raised in the Catholic Church, organizations like PP tend to get a bad reputation where the emphasis is completely on abortion services. Even though I am a pro-choice female, I was surprised to read that so much of PP’s services are actually devoted to preventive care and I wonder how PP operates or is viewed in countries in Latin America where religious views are often dominant.

  3. jliebner@stanford.edu says:

    Like Max, I was also intrigued but the work of PP in India, particularly the role of health workers at weddings. I can only imagine someone popping up at my wedding and encouraging me to watch an educational video during the reception! But granted, given that the median age of marriage for girls is only 16 (which is surprisingly low!), such outreach work seems important. As someone who has been raised in the Catholic Church, organizations like PP tend to get a bad reputation where the emphasis is completely on abortion services. Even though I am a pro-choice female and an advocate of contraception, I was surprised to read that so much of PP’s services are actually devoted to preventive care and I wonder how PP operates or is viewed in countries in Latin America where religious views are often dominant.

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