Planned Parenthood’s War Against Choice

Jane Jimenez

Jane Jimenez

June 6, 2005

Choice:  option, alternative, preference, selection, election: suggests the opportunity or privilege of choosing freely

American children are raised on choice.  They cut their teeth on choice.

Stores live or die based on their ability to offer consumers a myriad of choices.  Hotel conglomerates buy up competitors just so they can offer travelers a range of overnight comfort.  Marriott is not just Marriott.  It is Fairfield, Courtyard, Springhill…well, you get the picture.

It’s no wonder that Choice became the mantra of Planned Parenthood.  In their own Encyclopedia of Women’s Health, they list out the reasons “a woman may choose an abortion,” much like you would list the reasons why a girl might choose a pizza.

Choice is captivating.  Marrying choice to freedom, we elevate the power to choose to an inalienable right.  Thus, the sexual revolution was born on the wings of freedom and choice with its emphasis on an array of sexual behaviors from which any man or woman, girl or boy, could simply choose.

And with a sexual revolution came sex education.  In 1970, a training in Philadelphia for Planned Parenthood staff concluded with a day-and-a-half marathon of films and discussion.  The goal of these trainings?  “To lead to desensitization of anxieties surrounding sexual behavior…with a resultant development of understanding and tolerance of the range of sexual behavior.”

For over twenty years, this “tolerance” formed the foundation of sex education programs supported by Planned Parenthood.  They were all about choice…a child’s right to choose sex from a “range” of behaviors…given the “tools” of contraception.  And if it didn’t work out, there was always one more choice.

Planned Parenthood has grown up on choice.  It cut its teeth on choice.

Thus, it is either surprising, alarming or amusing to watch them conduct a war against choice.  This war can be traced back to 1980 when U.S. Senator Jeremiah Denton won congressional approval of the Adolescent Family Life Act (AFLA).  Designed as an “almost exact mirror alternative” to Planned Parenthood’s Title X funding, AFLA set a new course for sex education.  Program objectives emphasized adoption, parental involvement, abstinence from sexual intercourse, and pro-family education for teenagers.

Well… that was just a little too much choice for Planned Parenthood to handle.  It geared up to undo the harm of excess choice.  In Congress, it fought to limit and ultimately decrease AFLA funding at the same time that it sought increases in Title X funding.  It continued to exploit its own federal funding streams flowing from over 100 different laws.  In the battle between U.S. funding of Planned Parenthood-style programs and abstinence programs, they had a funding advantage by one report of at least 75:1.

Another tactic to eliminate AFLA programs was an attack on the very meaning of the term “abstinence.”  In a March 1987 report written by Marie Haviland-James for the Planned Parenthood Federation, an attack on the abstinence program Sex Respect set out an extensive list of objections including: “many references…to a ‘spiritual’ dimension of sexuality”, “use of the word ‘baby’ for fetus”,  and “unsubstantiated claims” such as “abstinence has future benefits for teens.”

In its battle against choice, Planned Parenthood had no better friend than Senator Edward Kennedy.  In the 101st Congress, he submitted two bills with the intent to subvert the AFLA programs by repealing the focus on adoption and abstinence, requiring abortion counseling, and repealing the mandate for parental involvement.  No wonder, Senator Kennedy received a Planned Parenthood Memo for March 28, 1989, warmly praising his help in crafting legislation to “prevent teenage pregnancy rather than teenage sex.”

Apparently, for Planned Parenthood, choice is worth defending…as long as it is their choice.

Abstinence education is a choice that parents pay for with hard-earned tax dollars.  It is a choice to have medically accurate and complete information presented to their children that helps build understanding of and reinforcement for abstaining from sexual behavior.  It helps teens define future goals, and it is taught by teachers who value teens enough to believe in them and their ability to succeed.

Abstinence education is a choice.  No school district, nor any parent or student, is forced to listen to or believe in the abstinence message.   It is a choice.

Abstinence education is one choice.  Nothing prevents a school from inviting abstinence educators to their campus in October and inviting Planned Parenthood to their campus in February.

But that’s not good enough for Planned Parenthood.  If they are to have their way, we will be paying our taxes to have one choice, and one choice only…theirs.

Choice?  Hey, Planned Parenthood…what about the choice of people who don’t want your choice?

February 21, 2005:  Sex Without Value

April 2, 2004:   Sex Education:  Spinning the Truth