by Keith Brightbill
November 17, 1997
In a recent guest column, Barbara Zdravecky, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southwest Florida, cited the results of a federally funded study which shows that young people are less likely to become involved in "risky behavior, such as cigarette smoking, alcohol and marijuana use, violent behavior, suicide and sexual activity" when they are connected to parents, family and school. This should come as no surprise. Other studies have also indicated that young people are 12 times more likely to delay sexual activity, and are more likely to se contraceptives when they do become sexually involved, if their parents promote abstinence or even if they don't discuss sex at all.
While Ms. Zdravecky says this confirms what Planned Parenthood has been saying for a long time--that parents should talk to their children about sex--their actions send a mixed message when they promise confidentiality in their counseling with teens. They assure teens that their parents do not need to know about receiving birth control devices or having abortions performed. Planned Parenthood has filed at least 15 lawsuits against Parental Consent and Notification laws since 1987, which would encourage parents and teens to communicate, while in practice it promotes just the opposite.
Ms. Zdravecky states later in the column that "no other organization in the United States does more to prevent unwanted pregnancies and reduce the need for abortions than Planned Parenthood." Two clarifications need to be made. Planned Parenthood's solution to unwanted pregnancies is abortion, though millions of Americans are awaiting babies to adopt. If mothers cared about the unborn child instead of their own wishes, the "unwanted" babies could be placed in loving homes where they are wanted.
Second, except for very rare medical exceptions, there is no "need" for an abortion. A pregnancy involves two patients, and every effort should be made to save both. We need to recognize the difference between a medical need and a bad choice. An abortion for a medical need is not an easy choice by any reckoning.
The main problem with Ms. Zdravecky's contention is lack of proof. Where are all the studies that show that Planned Parenthood-style sex education programs actually reduce teen pregnancies? Shouldn't Ms. Zdravecky be required to back up what she says? (Even the Alan Guttmacher Institute, the research arm of Planned Parenthood, cannot confirm their claims.) The fact is, there are no conclusive studies that Planned Parenthood programs are successful in reducing teen pregnancies. Statistics show that from the early 1960's to the present, teen pregnancies, abortions and sexually transmitted diseases are on the increase. Let us require some evidence from Ms. Zdravecky before we accept what she says as truth.
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