friday, march 4, 2011
news editor melissa erny
PARENTHOOD: Students worried about service From Page One There are eight Planned Parenthood centers throughout the North Country in Clinton, Franklin, Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties. These centers service nearly 12,000 individuals each year. According to studies from 2009, 64 percent of patients are between the ages of 18 and 29. In Plattsburgh’s Planned Parenthood on Brinkerhoff Street, 50 percent of patients are college-aged. Most are presumably from Plattsburgh State or Clinton Community College, said Martha Stahl, vice president of external affairs at Planned Parenthood of the North Country. Some benefits include providing free contraceptives, STI screenings, pregnancy tests and exams, and condoms. These have always been funded by the federal government. “If all the federal funding were cut, we would most likely have to close our doors,” Stahl said. Women with health insurance or other means of health care have alternatives if Planned Parenthood does close, Stahl said. The women who currently qualify for the
Family Planning Benefit Program, which offers free services to low-income patients, would have trouble finding alternative care. “We’ve done surveys, and about 60 percent of our patients use family planning centers as their only health care providers,” Stahl said. “They also tell us all the time that they don’t see any other doctors but us.” Stahl said patients would have trouble finding alternatives for abortions, one of the programs biggest services. “We don’t get federal funding for (abortions), but if we had to close our doors, people couldn’t get it,” Stahl said. “That would be a huge loss. The primary issue is folks would have a very difficult time finding the services we offer and in a timely manner at the rates we offer.” If Planned Parenthood closed, PSUC students still have an alternative: They could go to the Center for Student Health and Psychological Services for some of the same benefits like providing pap smears, STD testing, HIV testing, birth control, the morning after pill and condoms. Students are
File Photo PSUC graduates Megan Munroe (left) and Sarah Jennette (right) rallied on Good Friday last spring to support Planned Parenthood from religious protests.
charged for these services at the same price the college pays for them. Students in need of services such as abortions and colposcopies are referred to specialists. “Planned Parenthood makes students feel comfort-
able knowing those services are there,” PSUC student Samantha Coombs said. “They wouldn’t have that kind of safety net if funding was cut.” PSUC student Kristi Cannova said she also likes the proximity of Planned Parenthood to the college. “I feel like it’s good to have it near campus because not a lot of students have money to go other places for those types of things,” Cannova said. Female students at PSUC
are concerned by potential cuts in federal funding to the organization, but many male students expressed their concerns as well. “If you look at the media, the way they portray our generation, like in shows on MTV, is making it seem like it’s OK to be a teen mom,” PSUC student Pete Lott said. He said cuts in funding to Planned Parenthood could ultimately lead to an increase in pregnancies among college-
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aged women, which he feels might lead to an increase in drop-outs. He said he was concerned that men would drop out as well in order to work to support their children. “A recent report showed there are more women attending colleges than men,” Lott said. “If they want to see that continue, they shouldn’t cut funding to Planned Parenthood.” Student Shabaaz Rupani said he also supports Planned Parenthood. “Everybody makes mistakes,” Rupani said. “Everybody should have the right to correct a mistake because that could ruin their education.” PSUC student Agnitra Roy Choudhury said he understands opposition to the bill as well as support of it. “It’s tricky because it’s a politically-charged debate. I stand for safe sex. I’m not against people having the freedom to choose abortion or to use free contraception,” Roy Choudhury said. “On one hand, I’m against cuts, but on the other hand I see why some would question, ‘Why should my tax money be spent on your birth control?’” At this point in time, the bill has only passed through the House and still needs the approval from the Senate and the president. Stahl said people need to voice their concerns to the Senate while they have the chance to show that cutting family planning funds won’t help in the long run. “All the folks we see now for preventative health will need to see someone eventually,” Stahl said. “The problems we find in a routine check-up could develop into emergencies, and someone else will have to pay for that.” Stahl said an unwanted pregnancy, for instance, could turn into an expensive situation for the mother. If she doesn’t have to pay outof-pocket, Medicaid or insurance will have to cover her pregnancy, Stahl said. “That emergency care is much more expensive than preventative care for the patient, or Medicaid, or whoever ends up having to pay for it,” Stahl said.