Tonight my wife and I will be attending a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood that is being held at the house of some friends. Planned Parenthood has recently found itself in the crosshairs of social conservatives on Capitol Hill. Actually, this is not really new; PP has always been a favorite target of the right. But the attacks in recent months have been more vicious and potentially more effective than ever before.
And for the life of me, I can’t imagine why. Yes, it is true that Planned Parenthood does provide information on abortions, and some of its clinics perform the procedure. But Planned Parenthood does so much more than that, and nearly everything else it does is geared toward providing safe birth control to those who might otherwise not have access to it, thus preventing unwanted pregnancies and, by extension, preventing abortions as well.
Look, for people who are sincerely opposed to abortion, I realize that this is not an issue on which they can compromise — I understand that. If someone’s religious or moral beliefs tell them that ending a pregnancy is tantamount to ending a life, they have to oppose the procedure no matter what. But surely we can all agree that the prevention of unwanted pregnancies is in the interest of all sectors of society, regardless of faith or politics.
There is a line in the very first episode of The West Wing, probably my favorite television series of all time. Someone is arguing against providing contraception to teenagers, and he says, “Show the average American teenage male a condom, and his mind will turn to thoughts of lust.” To which Toby Ziegler (played by the wonderful Richard Schiff) replies, “Show the average teenage American male a lug-wrench, and his mind will turn to thoughts of lust!” The same, I’m afraid, can be said of teenage girls.
Teenagers are going to have sex. I say this with great anguish, because I am the father of teenage girls. But it’s true. And I, for one, am glad to know that Planned Parenthood is out there, doing their best to make sure that teens are informed and prepared when they take that step into adult relationships. That’s why I’ll be at tonight’s fundraiser, and why I’ll have my checkbook with me.