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ON THE SCENE: Beyond ‘the talk’

Planned Parenthood holds sex trivia fundraiser at Lisa G’s

February 2, 2017
By NAJ WIKOFF , Lake Placid News

Is it time for pro-lifers and Planned Parenters to work together?

An unintended consequence of de-funding Planned Parenthood could be a significant rise in abortions nationwide. Why? Planned Parenthood is a leader in reducing the number of unplanned pregnancies through educating millions of people across the country each year about safe sex. As 80 percent of their clients live at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level and a high percentage are minorities who often have reduced access to health care, any drop in this outreach could be consequential.

Approximately 97 percent of Planned Parenthood's health services range from birth control, family planning, and breast and cervical cancer exams to addressing sexually transmitted infections, which covers about half their work. Only 3 percent are for abortions, a number they seek to reduce.

Article Photos

The first-place team consisted of Joe Conto, Diana Friedlander, Karina Lombart and Gioia DiChristina.
(Provided photo — Naj Wikoff)

Margaret Sanger, her sister Ethel Byrne and Fania Mindell launched Planned Parenthood in 1916 in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. Since the beginning, they have found themselves in the courts fighting for their right to provide their services. Doing so, they have butted heads with the teachings of many faiths, people and belief systems for whom the smallest aspect of their work is the most inflammatory and offensive, so offensive they feel Planned Parenthood should get no support even for the vital health services they provide to so many marginalized people.

Although one of Planned Parenthood's great successes has been reducing the number of abortions through education, the desire to cut their federal funding has not abated. Now, with the election of President Donald Trump and the Republicans gaining control of the executive and legislative branches of government, elimination of federal support seems likely. The consequences could result in 2.5 million people nationwide losing access to care, a loss that will be felt in the North Country as well.

"We provide high-quality, affordable family planning and reproductive health care for nearly 12,000 men and women in the North Country each year," said Katie Ramus, vice president of community engagement for Planned Parenthood of the North Country. "Last year, our education department reached over 17,500 youth. Ninety-five percent of our education efforts are on prevention and birth control, testing, pregnancy planning along with sex education.

"I think the basis for reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortions is education and access. A lot of the work of our education department is focused on reducing violence against women, which helps us further reduce unwanted pregnancies. We provide classes on consent, healthy relationships and dating violence. We partner with the counties we work in to develop strategies to keep women safe, educate youth, and reduce violence against women. We work through coalitions and team building meetings to address these issues."

An unexpected benefit of Trump's election has been the increase in donations, fundraising efforts and volunteers in support Planned Parenthood, an effort that was on ample display at Lisa G's restaurant in Lake?Placid Tuesday, Jan. 24. Planned Parenthood board member Barbara Rottier suggested they hold a sex-themed trivia contest at Lisa G's. Owner Lisa Grigoriadis thought about it and, after seeing the results of the national election, agreed to do so on a Tuesday evening, a day they are normally closed.

"I used Planned Parenthood growing up, and I felt they needed my help," said Lisa. "Why not give back? I'm doing it now because I feel they need our help more than ever."

More than 200 people showed up, way more that the organizers anticipated, contributing nearly $5,000 while learning some unusual facts about sex, such as which country has the most laws about sex: China, Great Britain or the United States? Yes, it's us. Or which two states ban the sale of sex toys? Alabama and Georgia.

"Planned Parenthood is needed for every economic aspect in the United States," said Diana Friedlander. "They support women and men regarding sexually transmitted diseases, provide education, financial assistance to those who need it, and are a huge educational source for all women."

"I am here to support women's reproductive rights," said Joe Conto. "I think we are at a point in history when they are tenuously in danger."

Back when I worked for Dr. C. Everett Koop, the former U.S. surgeon general, a well-known pro-life advocate, I asked him for his views. He felt pro-life or pro-choice people could not change the mind of the other, but there are tremendous opportunities for both sides to work together to reduce the potential of abortion through sex education, contraception and family planning.

Further, he believed that all people should work to reduce violence against women and human trafficking, and that to be pro-life should mean to expand health care and opportunities for quality education for all - that being pro-life meant supporting a healthy life from conception through death. To that end, he took on the tobacco industry, then one of the major Washington lobbyists, worked to educate the American public about AIDS, pushed for science to combat the disease, and championed healthy eating and exercise.

Considering the tremendous service Planned Parenthood brings to so many, perhaps instead of seeking to de-fund them, which will victimize the many who receive badly needed care and reduce the number of youth that receives educational programming, they should be invited to a help develop national strategies to reduce the number of unplanned pregnancies from around 300,000 nationwide to zero.

"I work with Planned Parenthood because it's an organization that helps change the lives of women and men every single day," said Remus. "There are not too many jobs where you are at an event where someone comes up to and says Planned Parenthood saved my life! Knowing I'm part of that movement is quite gratifying."

Planned Parenthood will be holding additional fundraisers throughout the entire affiliate and invites people to suggest or offer to host future events.

Events are posted on their Facebook page and website. Planned Parenthood of the North Country covers Jefferson, Lewis, St. Lawrence, Clinton and Franklin counties and provides education programming in Essex County.



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