Last year, a provision banning Planned Parenthood by name in North Carolina’s budget was overturned by a court order. But this year, N.C. House Republicans have suggested a new measure to eliminate state funding for the program.
The new measure prohibits contracts between the Department of Health and Human Services and family planning services outside of local health departments — in other words, Planned Parenthood.
With the renewed debate, last year’s provision and an abortion law mandating an ultrasound before the procedure, many claim Republicans are waging a “war on women.” Democrats in the House have filed bills to reverse last year’s budget provision and revoke the ultrasound law.
As a college-age female, I’m familiar with the services Planned Parenthood offers. But I wanted to brush up on the specifics of Planned Parenthood programs to make sure that I’m on the right side of the war on women.
Although I’ve never gone to Planned Parenthood, many of my close friends have. One friend, a senior here at UNC, told me she went there to buy the generic form of Plan B, an oral emergency contraceptive.
“It is a lot cheaper there,” she told me. “I’m in college. I don’t have a job. I couldn’t afford the name-brand stuff.”
Another UNC student added that the Chapel Hill Health Center was the place she felt most comfortable buying emergency contraceptives.
“Planned Parenthood is here to help with things like getting emergency contraceptives. I knew I wouldn’t be judged there. I felt like I would be labeled a slut if I just went to a pharmacy.”
Planned Parenthood is a valuable resource for women like me — women looking for an inexpensive and safe place to express concerns about their reproductive health.
I understand the conservative qualms over abortion. But that’s not enough to prevent funding. Planned Parenthood is much more than abortion. Surely the General Assembly isn’t against offering low-cost birth control and emergency contraception to women who may not be able to afford it — like college students on a budget.
Do these representatives have a problem with inexpensive health screenings? Planned Parenthood health centers provide gynecological exams, along with testing and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. In May, the Planned Parenthood in Fayetteville offered low-cost breast exams and PAP screenings in response to local support for their programs.
Perhaps if our state supported Planned Parenthood, we could benefit from more programs like this.
Surely, our state politicians responsible for crafting the budget — individuals who claim they are not engaged in a “war on women” — do not want to prevent funding of local peer education programs such as Planned Parenthood of Central North Carolina, which provides information and training about reproductive health.
Apparently, the N.C. General Assembly holds these problems against Planned Parenthood. And all of these services and programs empower individual women to make informed decisions about their health and sexuality.
I was born and raised here in North Carolina. I’ve always been proud to say it’s one of the more progressive southern states.
I want to proudly claim that my home state is pro-woman, pro-reproductive rights and pro-health. But measures like the ones currently being debated in the legislature make me hesitate.
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