To Men Who Think They Don't Need Planned Parenthood

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Hey, you. Yeah you, the dudes who don't think you should have to pay for Planned Parenthood to operate. I get it. You're not a woman, so why should your hard-earned dollars go toward things like pap smears and contraception -- things that only benefit the lady folk?

Well, I'm here to tell you that you're wrong. Like, very wrong. The idea that Planned Parenthood services don't affect men's lives is as misguided as the one that a person should only have to pay for the health care services they themselves directly require. Allow me to educate you on the ways that even your dude life is intertwined with the success or failure of Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood is an organization that serves as "one of the nation's leading providers of high-quality, affordable health care for women, men, and young people, and the nation's largest provider of sex education," according to its website. But what the organization has become most synonymous with isn't STD screening or prenatal care; it's abortions. The $780 million of medical services Planned Parenthood provides annually has been boiled down by its opponents to one: abortions.

It is true that Planned Parenthood makes safe abortion accessible to low-income women, who might not otherwise be able to afford the medical service. However, abortions only account for 3 percent of the individual medical services Planned Parenthood provides, according to the nonprofit. Yet, because Planned Parenthood has been branded by opponents as some sort of abortion factory that doesn't provide additional critical health services, its government funding is constantly challenged.

Under the Republicans' now-derailed health care proposal, Planned Parenthood would have have lost $500 million in annual funding -- 43 percent of its total annual budget, according to financial information from 2014. It should be noted that the Hyde Amendment, which has been in place since 1976, says that federal money cannot be used to fund abortions. So the extra step to completely pull all federal funding from the organization simply because of one of the services it provides goes beyond the pale. Though the AHCA did not pass last week, Planned Parenthood is only granted a slight reprieve, since its funding is under a constant state of attack from conservative lawmakers.

So at this point, cis male listener, you're probably saying to yourself, "OK, so thanks for the lecture on current events. But you still haven't gotten to what this all has to do with me." Well, let's start with how Planned Parenthood affects you directly.

I think it's safe to say that you probably don't want a sexually transmitted disease. I'm sure that's something you actively aim to avoid. Well Planned Parenthood provides STD screenings to women and men, which helps you and your partner(s) know your STD status. And if you do end up having an STD, they can help you or any partner get the treatment you need. So Planned Parenthood promotes safer sex for everyone, regardless of gender.

Contraception is another benefit of Planned Parenthood. If you use condoms, you can get those from Planned Parenthood. Can't make a more direct link from an organization to a penis than that.

Additionally, it provides women with various forms of contraception, from the pill to IUDs, and men should care about women having access to these forms of birth control, too. After all, women don't just make babies on their own. Men should be just as invested in contraception as women are.

And if something goes awry with your contraception, there's Plan B for that, which Planned Parenthood can help provide. If you can't see how accessibility to Plan B affects your life, then you probably also can't see how climate change affects your life. But that's an argument for another day.

Another method of birth control is a vasectomy. You may be thinking, What does Planned Parenthood have to do with that? Well, guess what? Planned Parenthood helps provide those as well! And in many cases, they can help offset the cost of the procedure if you are in need of financial assistance.

Well, dear dudes, what if you're not sexually active? Planned Parenthood actually provides health services for men that have nothing to do with sex. About seven percent of Planned Parenthood's annual budget is spent on cancer screenings. It provides prostate, colon, and testicular cancer screenings for men, and breast, cervical, and ovarian cancer screenings for women. Those are services that literally save lives, which is what Planned Parenthood opponents purport to be most concerned about.

Planned Parenthood has a whole section on its website about the sexual health services it provides to men. And even if you yourself don't ever need to visit Planned Parenthood, there will probably come a time when a woman in your life could benefit from one of the many services the organization offers. Those cancer screenings could be the difference between early detection or a tough battle with cancer. Isn't that worth funding?