Planned Parenthood supporters rally in Minnesota. Image by Flickr user Fibbonaci Blue.
We know, as women on the go, that our sexual selves don’t stop when we hit the road; in fact, we know that having control over our reproductive freedom may be what allows us to travel in the first place.
How many love stories begin with a whirlwind trip to Europe or conclude with a proposal at the Eiffel Tower?
How many of us set out to discover ourselves and wind up discovering new partners along the way?
How many of us just so happen to be on the road when something scary happens — we get a period that just won’t quit or find a lump has suddenly appeared in a breast?
When such things happen, we might be completely out of luck if not for one organization: Planned Parenthood.
Why Planned Parenthood Matters to Travelers
Planned Parenthood provides a wide variety of sexual-health-related services, including cancer screenings, STI testing, PAP smears, contraceptive distribution, and abortions, helping approximately five million people around the world each year. This number also includes those who have benefited from Planned Parenthood’s outreach and education services.
While Planned Parenthood receives a hefty $500 million from the federal government each year through Medicaid and Title X funds, that only accounts for about 40% of its total operating budget. The rest comes from several sources, including client fees for services.
You read that right: You can obtain any of these services for an out-of-pocket fee. No insurance required.
This means that if you’re traveling in the U.S. and need reproductive health care, Planned Parenthood is your best option for being cared for.
Need to get tested after that hot hookup? Planned Parenthood.
Birth control runs out while you’re traveling? Planned Parenthood.
Need an abortion after your birth control backfires? Planned Parenthood.
Worried about that lump in your breast? Planned Parenthood.
From pregnancy support and termination to STI testing to contraceptive provision, Planned Parenthood is the go-to option for any of us who need these services on the road. That means that, anytime or anywhere, any (or many) of us may find ourselves in need of its services.
Why Planned Parenthood Needs Our Support
Ever since a poorly edited video revealed that Planned Parenthood sells aborted fetal tissue in accordance with federal law, anti-abortion activists have been baying for its blood, even going so far as to submit several bills of attainder for Congressional approval.
While Planned Parenthood has managed to retain its federal funding for the time being, efforts to shut it down have been waxing and waning since its founding — and have had some limited successes.
Some states have dramatically limited abortion access, for example, so not all Planned Parenthood offices can provide abortions. And fee-for-service doesn’t equate to free: If you have a limited budget, even emergency contraception might be prohibitively expensive. If you’re young, you may need parental permission to receive any services at all, meaning that your summer trip out-of-state could take an unpleasantly restrictive turn without warning.
We find love, find ourselves pregnant, find a breast lump, find a new concern, find a need for antibiotics, find that we’ve suffered the incredible violence of having sex forced upon us — all while living our lives, at home and on the road.
Planned Parenthood may be one organization, but its widespread sites and comprehensive services — as well as its willingness to take out-of-pocket payments — make it the optimal option for women on the go. Planned Parenthood needs our support because a debate over 3% of its services — abortion — may cost us the entire pantheon of resources it provides.
This incredible organization has been around for 99 years and has provided immeasurable benefits to people worldwide. It is the reason women’s reproductive freedom has had the advances it has in recent memory. It has fought tirelessly to ensure that access to information and care is guaranteed for as many people as possible, including all of us who have been privileged with the opportunity to travel.
What We Can Do
The latest fight over Planned Parenthood’s funds may have been decided in its favor, but the war is not yet over. Politicians are jockeying for public approval as the 2016 American election looms, and the abortion issue is guaranteed to be a hot topic throughout the campaign season. As a result, Planned Parenthood will continue to come under fire.
In order to protect Planned Parenthood, its services, and the benefits we all get to reap, we need to continue to support it. We need to continue to fight for its funding and reputation. We need to be proactive in advocating for the recognition Planned Parenthood deserves for all it provides in our communities. If we have testimonials, we need to find ways to share them. We need to champion it for being our saving grace when on the road, uninsured, or in a bind. We need to do everything we can to keep Planned Parenthood alive and thriving because if we don’t, we all lose.