Three minutes passed, and a faded pink positive sign started to appear. Paralyzed with disbelief, Addison* ’17 rethought her entire future and her life as she knew it. Teen pregnancy had always seemed so distant, but now it had become her reality.
Addison said she intended to go to Planned Parenthood to seek medical attention for her pregnancy.
“I was just going to get an abortion, and it wasn’t going to be an issue,” Addison said.
Eventually, Addison found out that she was not pregnant and concluded that the pregnancy test had given her a false positive. She said she was still terrified to think about what her life might have been like if she were to have had a child, especially if President Donald Trump’s administration were to defund Planned Parenthood and make abortion less of an accessible option.
“It’s pretty horrifying considering that my life can be completely changed just because one man decides that he knows what’s best for something that doesn’t affect him whatsoever,” Addison said. “I might have had to drop out of school. I wouldn’t get an education. It would be life-ending.”
Planned Parenthood provides reproductive health services both nationally and globally. According to their website, Sexually Transmitted Infection and Human Immunodeficiency Virus testing and treatment account for 39 percent of their services, pregnancy testing for 26 percent and contraception for 16 percent. Abortion accounts for 2 percent of their services. Other services include cancer screening, emergency contraception, sex education and primary care.
The organization receives federal funding in two ways, and no federal funding can be used toward abortion. Title X, which is part of the United States Public Health Service Act, was enacted in 1970 and is a federal program devoted to providing family planning services. Planned Parenthood also receives federal funding through Medicaid reimbursement, in which the state bills the federal government for family planning services provided by Planned Parenthood, the federal government reimburses the state for those services and finally the state reimburses Planned Parenthood. To qualify for Medicaid, a patient must be below a certain income level.
Since Trump has signed an executive order barring federal funds from international organizations that offer abortion, like the International Planned Parenthood Federation, board member of Planned Parenthood Los Angeles Cathy Unger said she is concerned about the possibility of losing federal funds in the United States.
“[Losing federal funds] is going to affect low income people, those not being able to get their family planning services reimbursed,” Unger said.
“We raise private money, but even the wonderful and generous contributions don’t make up for what we get from the federal government for reimbursement.”
Unger said the best way to raise awareness for Planned Parenthood is by educating the public.
“The day after Trump was elected, we got calls into Planned Parenthood asking if we were still open and if we were still providing services,” Unger said. “There’s so much misinformation out there. It’s about educating our legislators and the public.”
Planned Parenthood centers are welcome to all patients regardless of age, gender, sexual orientation, race, religion or immigration status. Unger said that she is concerned that without federal funding, the organization will no longer be able to provide for all patients that come in.
“Young women are going to be afraid to go to Planned Parenthood because they won’t think that we can provide the services, and, frankly, that is correct because if funding is reduced, we’re only going to be able to serve so many people,” Unger said. “In California, I don’t know what’s going to happen because if we lose federal funding we would hope that the state of California could make up some of it, but they can’t make up as much as the federal government reimburses us for.”
Along with promoting inclusivity, Unger said the organization aims to make family planning services and reproductive care as accessible as possible.
“We’ve fought very hard to have laws where you can come in without your parents’ consent,” Unger said. “You can avail yourself of family planning services and abortion services without parental notification or consent.”
Even though Zoe* ’18 said she feels comfortable talking to her parents about her health concerns, it was still difficult for her to receive a prescription for birth control.
“I needed [birth control] for my skin, so my mom called my general pediatrician to try to get it prescribed, and my doctor basically said that she doesn’t prescribe birth control based on moral reasons and religion,” Zoe said.
She was able to eventually receive the prescription from her dermatologist, but Zoe said she was taken aback by her pediatrician’s response.
“I was confused because I haven’t been exposed to that many people who are adamantly against birth control, especially based on religion,” Zoe said. “[My doctor] is a medical professional, and birth control is super normal in our day and age, so it was kind of upsetting.”
Because Zoe’s parents support her using birth control, she said she is more concerned for girls who can’t turn to their parents for help.
“If Planned Parenthood is defunded, people who don’t have the resources like I do, who have parents who are against birth control, who are in a state where [birth control] is hard to find or who don’t have the economic resources to handle it themselves are more at risk than I am,” Zoe said.
As a senior who is preparing to leave for college, La Femme leader Sohni Kaur ’17 said she is scared that Planned Parenthood might no longer be an available resource for her when she leaves home.
“It’s just worrying to me to think that if anything were to happen to me on a college campus, where things often do happen, that the laws might not be able to allow me to get help,” Kaur said. “I haven’t needed to go to Planned Parenthood yet, but I know that in college, I’m going to be away from my doctor and my parents, so having Planned Parenthood would be a huge benefit. Even if I don’t need anything and I just have any questions that I don’t feel comfortable asking anybody else, it would be great to still have Planned Parenthood there for me and for my friends, and it’s really concerning to think that those are very basic human rights that are potentially being taken away.”
La Femme participated in Pink Out the week after Trump’s inauguration, in which members of the club wore pink to raise awareness for Planned Parenthood. Kaur said the club plans to continue talking about women’s health rights regarding Planned Parenthood and other local charities and health clinics.
“A lot of people don’t know that the majority of what Planned Parenthood does is cancer screening and STI testings, which is really important for just basic life, so I think that the best way to combat that misconception is to keep people informed,” Kaur said. “My main concern is that people who are so actively against Planned Parenthood are not really in the mindset, especially right now, to even bother learning about it, so until people are more willing to listen, I think it’s our job to make sure that we keep talking about it and we make sure it stays funded.”
As chair of the teen outreach committee for the Women’s March Los Angeles, Cami Katz ’19 recruited Harvard-Westlake students as well as students from other high schools in Los Angeles to attend the Women’s March. She said she wanted to be involved in the march so she could raise awareness for women’s rights.
“We can have all these marches,” Katz said. “We can do all these things, but they’re not changing [Trump]. Not to say that they’re going to stop or that I’m going to stop, but he doesn’t seem to be truly affected by them yet, and he doesn’t understand how deep this runs, but I don’t plan to stop at all during his entire term.”
Although Katz said she has never sought medical attention from Planned Parenthood, she knows girls from other schools who have, and she is concerned about federal funds for the organization being reduced.
“Women are being completely targeted, so it’s really difficult to watch,” Katz said. “The idea of Planned Parenthood being defunded is so concerning because if you have nowhere else to go, you should have a doctor. That’s a natural human right that [Trump] shouldn’t be able to take away.”
*Names have been changed.