With all of the recent controversy about Planned Parenthood being disproportionately placed in minority communities - and allegedly being the cause of many African-American babies being aborted - actress Gabrielle Union has decided to speak up.
For Union, the Planned Parenthood controversy hits a personal note: Her best friend, who lacked health care, was able to receive both screening and treatment for cancer. Even though Union's friend recently died from the disease, Union contends that Planned Parenthood still gave her friend a fighting chance.
At the age of 32, my girlfriend Kristen Martinez was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. She fought incredibly hard for five years but ultimately lost her battle with breast cancer on June 16, 2010.
We knew she wasn't going to make it this past summer, so I asked her, What's the one thing that you want young girls to take away, what do you want your legacy to be?
She said just to remind people and women, especially, that you are your own best advocate, and if you don't put you first, no one else will.
The vast majority of the work that they do is preventative. Planned Parenthood provides low-cost reproductive information and care, which goes into providing contraception. For women who choose to keep their babies, they offer low-cost pregnancy services as well.
Planned Parenthood is providing vaccines, cervical cancer screenings, 830,000 breast exams, STD screenings and (overall) half-a-million HIV screenings. The way people are focusing now on Planned Parenthood is like they are taking one piece and deciding that the whole thing is bad, and that's just not the case.
As for Planned Parenthood's supposed targeting of African-American women, I think when you factor in socioeconomics and the fact that there are plenty of underprivileged and younger women who don't have access to proper health care and affordable contraception, you also see an increase in the number of African-American women getting abortions.
The reality of what Planned Parenthood is doing is trying to increase the number of planned pregnancies and give women the options of planning out their pregnancies by way of contraception.
That is the bulk of what Planned Parenthood is doing.
For a lot of women, the last stop for affordable health care and acceptable health care is Planned Parenthood. It's the place that a lot of people go to, certainly minorities, because you know it's the one place where you're not getting turned away when you're asking questions about reproductive care.
If we provide more access to quality and affordable contraception, and information, you're going to see those numbers go down across the board and not just in terms of the African-American community.
For women, and for society at large, we should care that Planned Parenthood's funding could get cut. If you look at the fact that a good chunk of the women that go to Planned Parenthood receive federal funding anyway and you realize this is where they're turning to go ... if you eliminate Planned Parenthood, think of all the STDs that will be spread, all of the women who won't be receiving preventative health care in terms of breast cancer, cervical cancer. Think of all the women who wouldn't get reproductive health and information. Cutting Planned Parenthood's funding does such a disservice to our already underserved community.
This should be the last place that should be cut.
One in five women will visit a Planned Parenthood at some point in their lifetime. We cannot eliminate the funding. It does not make good sense, it doesn't make good business sense, it doesn't make moral sense or health sense.
If you go to IStandWithPlannedParenthood, you can add your name to a petition asking Congress to stop Planned Parenthood from losing federal funding. Almost a million people are already signed up, but we just need to keep it going. Our elected officials want to hear from you, and there's strength in numbers.
The more numbers we can get saying we refuse to stand by idly and let you cut such a necessary institution like Planned Parenthood - they will respond to that. As people who want to eliminate the funding are rallying their troops, we need to rally ours, and it doesn't mean you need to be pro-life or pro-choice, it just means you don't want to see underprivileged women across the board stop receiving the health services that they so desperately need.
Gabrielle Union has starred in "The Perfect Holiday,""Meet Dave" and "Cadillac Records" and is the long-standing face of Neutrogena. She is currently filming a pilot and is an ambassador for the Susan G. Komen Foundation and the Young Survivor Coalition.
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