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You’ve probably been hearing a lot about Planned Parenthood in the news lately (Republicans are still trying to defund it). Maybe you’ve driven past a clinic and wondered what the organization does — and maybe you’ve even been in for a visit.
But as much as you might think you know about Planned Parenthood, there’s probably a thing or two that hasn’t been on your radar.
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Read on to discover some of the lesser-known facts about PP — and prepare to be surprised.
1. Planned Parenthood is the country’s largest sex-ed provider.
How large, you ask? “We reach about 1.5 million high school students and young adults in schools and communities across the country every year,” says Dr. Leslie Kantor, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s vice president of education. In addition, millions of people visit Planned Parenthood’s website or use one of its apps each month.
2. Clinics do more than provide birth control.
“Planned Parenthood provides a wide range of sexual and reproductive health care services,” Dr. Kantor says. “That includes everything from well care to STD testing to cancer screening to abortion.”
3. Planned Parenthood treats women, but not only women.
“We provide services to people of all genders,” Dr. Kantor says. That goes for sexual identity and gender identity, too — all are welcome.”
“We’re very proud to be a partner of the LGBTQ community,” she adds.
4. All services are confidential.
…and that goes for people younger than 18 years old, too.
“All of our services to all of our patients of all ages are confidential,” Dr. Kantor says. That means that no matter what, Planned Parenthood won’t tell anyone — not your friends, not your teachers, not your parents — about your visit.
Although laws around notifying parents varies (check out this list for more information), Planned Parenthood will never reveal information if you choose to get contraception. One thing to understand: if you’re on your parents’ insurance and use it for a visit, your parents may find out that you visited a clinic.
“If teens have concerns about using their regular insurance at Planned Parenthood, we will work with them to figure out if they are eligible for other funding streams,” Dr. Kantor says,
5. You can text Planned Parenthood.
Forgot to take a pill? Worried that you might have a UTI? Forgot to use a condom? You can get help without leaving your home. Through the organization’s Chat/Text program, you can text a health educator about these and any other questions you might have.
The health educators can’t give diagnoses, but they can provide education and information — and help you understand if you should make an appointment.
6. Federal tax dollars do not pay for abortions.
Maybe you’ve heard some politicians say that they want to defund Planned Parenthood so federal funds don’t pay for abortions. But there’s a little problem with that claim: federal funds already do not pay for abortions.
Since 1976, the Hyde Amendment has blocked federal Medicaid funding for abortion services (except to save the life of a woman, or if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest). If Medicaid reimbursement is taken away from Planned Parenthood, that actually means that other health services will no longer be covered.
Says Dr. Kantor, “When people talk about defunding Planned Parenthood right now, here’s what it won’t pay for: well visits, Pap smears, cancer screening, STD testing, and birth control.”
7. Before Planned Parenthood, condoms were criminal.
Yes, really. Believe it or not, back in the early 1960s, using any form of contraception was illegal in Connecticut — whether you were married or not. People could be (and were!) arrested for distributing or using condoms, or other forms of birth control.
A woman named Estelle Griswold, then the head honcho of the state’s Planned Parenthood League, opened a clinic that offered birth control. It wasn’t long before she was arrested, tried, found guilty, and fined — but that didn’t stop her.
She took her appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned the earlier courts’ decisions and allowed married women to use birth control. In 1972, the right was extended to all women. Thanks, Estelle.
8. It’s not just an American organization.
Yes, Planned Parenthood is based in the United States, but its efforts don’t stop at our borders. In partnership with local groups in Latin America and Africa, Planned Parenthood Global works to provide sexual education and health services to men, women, and teens in underserved communities — along with programs that encourage teenage girls to further their education. In Kenya, for instance, Planned Parenthood Global works with local partners to support an all-girls soccer league.
9. Planned Parenthood wants you to talk with your parents.
No joke. A new quiz called Awkward or Not? aims to help teenagers gauge how the ol’ “sex and relationships” talk might go over. “It’s not always on parents to start the conversation,” Dr. Kantor says. “Teens can also get it going.”
Oh, and in case you didn’t know, October is Let’s Talk month, which is all about encouraging parents and teens to communicate about sexuality.
10. And just for fun… a WNBA team stands with Planned Parenthood.
Over the summer, the organization partnered with the Seattle Storm, a WNBA team, for a pre-game rally that raised $41,790 through ticket sales.
“I personally got my first birth control with Planned Parenthood,” Dawn Trudeau, the team co-owner, told USA Today. “I think it’s a tremendous asset for women and girls — and actually men, too.” Score.