Thankful for Planned Parenthood
November 29, 2009
BY BILL DENNEEN
Santa Maria, until just recently, had the highest teenage pregnancy rate of any city in the entire industrialized world. I called it a “pregnancy-epidemic.” One of the reasons is all local hospitals are Catholic-controlled thus not providing sex-education, contraceptives, vasectomies or tubal ligations.
The only local source for these is Planned Parenthood (PP-SM) which has led in the reduction of the PG “epidemic.” In general, American teens have more partners, shorter relationships, less contraceptive use, more abortions and more babies than all other industrialized countries.
During WW II, I was a medic and part of D-Day. When I returned to Boston, I worked on an ambulance and saw something I had not seen in the Navy–young women in puddles of blood. They had tried to perform abortions on themselves with coat hangers. At the time abortion, and even contraception, was illegal in Massachusetts. The shock of seeing this made this young sailor (me) a lifelong supporter of Planned Parenthood and the legalization of contraceptives and abortion.
Every organism has a sex life, even bacteria. Zygote formation results in a mixing of the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA), which makes for a variation of offspring and is the basis of evolution. Asexual reproduction is fast and efficient, but does not produce this variation in offspring, thus no evolution.
My training has been as a biologist. My home and life are full of animals. When organisms are in estrus (heat) there is a driving urge to mate. I have seen it in goats, horses, ducks, chickens, pigs, butterflies, snakes, turtles and even in young students while teaching at Hancock College. It is fascinating for me as a biologist to objectively observe this basic attraction resulting in a mixing of the DNA, thus evolution.
The number of people on this small fragile planet reached its first billion in about 1830 after over two million years of evolution, its second billion about the time I was born (1925). During my lifetime, we have added 5 billion more people to an overcrowded fragile planet. We are adding 76 million additional people each year. All “population explosions” are followed by a population collapse. We are ripe.
President Bush spent over a billion dollars promoting “abstinence only” education. Research has shown that this had essentially no impact on the age of the first sexual encounter. The “virginity pledge” has been taken by 2.5 million teens, but 90% of the pledge takers are non-virgins at marriage. Pledge takers are also more likely to have unprotected sex.
President Bush also cut Congress-approved funding for United Nations Family Planning (UNFPA) for 8 consecutive years. This funding had gone to poor countries with high birth rates. Lack of funding has resulted in unwanted babies and abortions. In my opinion, George W. Bush just did not understand basic Biology. He must have slept during his Biology classes.
The average age of first intercourse is 17 and lower for the less educated. In talking with a young woman about this she had this to say, “I am a 25-year old non-American woman staying at Bill’s Home Hostel. I have been in an unmarried, monogamous relationship for the last five years. We support each other, love each other, live together, cook together, travel together and, yes, we have sex. We are both fortunate enough to have had access to information, contraceptives and education and have been able to make our own choices about what’s best for us. We plan to have children some day. In order for young women to live their lives in a fulfilled manner and to be responsible about their choices, we need to give them tools- the main one being education. Without knowledge about the good and bad aspects of contraceptives, abortions, abstinence – women are severely handicapped. Let women be responsible – they’ll make wise choices! “
At Planned Parenthood Santa Maria, a group of about 10 religious folk pray almost daily across the street. I carry my counter sign: CONDOMS NOT ABORTION. Italy, which is 97% Catholic and, with the resident “Pope,” has a birth rate so low they are not even replacing themselves. All indications to me are they are quietly using contraceptives (e.g., IUDs, condoms, emergency contraception) with backup abortions.
The birth rate is so low Italians are not replacing themselves and the government gives a $2,000 bonus to women who will have a second child. I urge local religious folks to follow the pragmatic example of Italy resulting in a low birth rate, less abortions and every child born being planned, wanted, and loved–not the result of an “accident.”
Planned Parenthood Santa Maria had over 60,000 visits last year with 64 percent for contraception, 22 percent for pregnancy testing, 3 percent for AIDS testing and only six percent for abortions. PP-SM has played a major role in the reduction of the teen “pregnancy epidemic.” The largest group to utilize the clinic are 20-34 year old females.
The Central Coast is so very fortunate to have a Planned Parenthood clinic functioning with a professional staff of about 15. Their goal (& mine) is to have every baby born planned, wanted and loved. I am proud to be associated with Planned Parenthood Santa Maria since its inception in the 1960’s.
Bill Denneen is a biologist and environmental activist living in Nipomo.