College Diary: Planned Parenthood — One More Reason to Stay Chaste

Planned Parenthood the world’s oldest and largest birth control and abortion service organization. It prides itself on providing low cost birth control services for minorities and the poor, particularly those in the inner-city. The newest targeted group is college students, who are being deluged with propaganda of the sort that assumes that all college students are sexually active and desperately need Planned Parenthood — “a friend of the family,” as they call themselves in their ads — to help them continue to be so, and to save them from high medical bills, pregnancies, disease, and their own ignorance.

An incoming freshman cannot make it through freshman orientation at Butler University without hearing at least one hair-raising lecture on pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and the use of condoms. From that moment on, what one didn’t learn about sex and birth control from Judy Blume books, health class, one’s parents, or the card catalogue at the library is forced upon one by Planned Parenthood.

There is a required physical education class in the Butler core curriculum called Lifetime Fitness, which is usually taken during freshman year. There is a unit in this class taught by a representative from the local branch of Planned Parenthood’s educational services, one of whom is nick-named Porno Penny because of the explicit films she shows during her classes. These films depict various medical exams, the use of all artificial contraceptives known to man, and sexual intercourse — all live and in color. Students of both genders are known to faint, vomit, scream, or walk out of the room in the middle of these films. Other classes are subjected to a film showing 13-year-olds ponder how women became pregnant, and their musings were, of course, grossly inaccurate. No caped superhero flew to their rescue at this point, but the effect was the same: since schools and parents tell their children nothing about sex and pregnancy, and since teenage promiscuity is a foregone conclusion, Planned Parenthood’s duty is to rescue these teenagers from their ignorance about reproduction and promise not to tell their parents. The rest of the film involved the same sort of material as Porno Penny’s, but used cartoons, models, and fresh fruit instead of actual people.

The lecturer then asked the embarrassed class if there were any questions. I asked the representative how much federal money Planned Parenthood received. She denied that the organization receives any government money at all, despite the fact that tax dollars are appropriated to Planned Parenthood through Title X of the Public Health Services Act. The organization received a large chunk of the $146 million of Title X’s funds in 1988 alone. Besides this source of income, Planned Parenthood also receives money from state and local statutes which authorize money for family planning programs, from Medicaid, and from the U.N. Fund for Population Activities. The representative denied that Planned Parenthood receives money from anywhere besides private funding. She added a few jabs at the “anti-choice” crowd in the classroom, of which I was obviously a member, before concluding her remarks.

Planned Parenthood, founded in the 1920s by Margaret Sanger in Brooklyn, New York, now has clinics in 120 countries, with 800 clinics in the U.S. alone. Sanger is revered within the organization, even though her published views on population control could easily have been written by Josef Goebbels. For example, in her periodical the Birth Control Review in May 1919, she wrote, “More children from the fit, less from the unfit — that is the chief issue of birth control.” The poor and the very young who use the organization’s services — including high school and college students who are afraid to obtain birth control from their family doctor, if they have one — are persuaded to opt for contraception, abortion, and sterilization, although local branches may not have enough funds to provide all of these services. Nevertheless, they do provide referral services for what they do not perform themselves. I was told by a regular patient of Planned Parenthood that she was always treated as though she were a member of a high-risk group for AIDS when she went to the local clinic for a check-up, regardless of her claims to monogamy, and was lectured at length about how not to catch the disease. Many of the students with whom I spoke found the services unprofessional and clumsy, and only continued to use the Planned Parenthood clinics out of felt desperation.

Planned Parenthood has run provocative ads through the spring semester in Butler’s official and unofficial newspapers. One ad depicting a terrified looking woman holding a baby is captioned, “A baby isn’t the only thing you can get from unprotected sex”; a list of sexually-transmitted diseases follows. The message seems to be that a baby is roughly equal to a disease. Actually, considering that a baby is listed along with diseases as another undesirable outcome of promiscuity, it may well be hinted that babies are worse than diseases, since they are more expensive and complicated to get rid of. Another ad utilizes the same picture with the words “She just spent nine months of sex education.” More sex education is supposedly the answer, judging from this ad. More sex education? Those of us who are veterans of experimental public school junior high sex education programs in the early ’80s can rattle off more facts about contraceptive methods and their success rates, sexual aberrations, and venereal diseases than we will ever need to know, and all of this information has not solved any of the problems Planned Parenthood claims to be trying to eradicate.

Of course, sex education is a political issue, and Planned Parenthood is perennially involved in political activities. The organization lobbies local and national government on legislation concerning sex education, birth control, sterilization, and abortion services in the Third World as well as this country. They even circulate petitions among their patients on these matters. Planned Parenthood of Central Indiana sponsored a workshop at the Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation in March on “the needs of gay and lesbian youth” for teachers, clergy, counselors, and others who routinely work with young people. The featured speaker was an ex-Catholic who helped to found Dignity, a support group for Catholic homosexuals who disagree with the Church’s teachings on sexual matters.

The same people on the Butler faculty who brought Porno Penny to the classroom and who want to install condom machines in all dormitories and Greek houses are now attempting to bring hardcore feminism via a host of feminist speakers. There is now a Liberal Arts and Sciences Committee on Gender Studies (doesn’t “gender studies” sound like a polite euphemism for weekend debauchery?), a Brown Bag Lunch Series on Women’s Issues, and a feminist lecture series.

The lunch series on women’s issues is designed to inform female students of all majors about what they’re supposed to be discussing, protesting, and fighting for or against, and to warn them about how badly they are going to be treated in the workplace upon graduation. Female professors also have an opportunity at these lunches to talk about their dissertations, which inevitably concern women in whatever field they studied. The student turnout for this and all other “multicultural” activities has been incredibly low. As far as being politically correct goes, Butler’s student body ranks somewhere around General Pinochet and South Africa, much to the disgust of some of the faculty.

Eleanor Smeal, former National Organization for Women president, was hired to speak at Butler (now we know where our tuition money goes) in February to promote a rally at the Indiana State House for the repeal of the state’s strict parental consent abortion laws. The room in which Smeal spoke was rather small, which means that a low turnout was expected. In fact, there was a bigger turnout for a lecture given by Jello Biafra, the former lead singer of the Dead Kennedys, where the auditorium was standing room only. Smeal’s speech was entitled, “The Effect of Parental Consent Laws on Young Women’s Lives,” and she acted throughout her talk as if the evil institution of parenthood, which puts fear into young girls and ruins their lives, does not consist of women as well as men. It did not occur to her that women could possibly be against abortion and/or parental consent laws. She exploited the death of an Indiana teenager who died of septic shock after an illegal abortion in 1988 to promote her ideas on the issue. From a cold-blooded point of view, if the girl insisted on an abortion, she could have obtained a legal one in another Midwestern state, since other cities advertise abortion clinics on the first page of the Indianapolis Yellow Pages under “Abortion.” A grisly film depicting horrid deaths from illegal abortions was shown at the speech, the flyer for which depicted a body being pulled out of a drawer at a morgue, an interesting choice of media from people who charge the pro-life movement with tastelessness.

The rally at the State House had a turnout almost as pitiful as the anti-war protests that took place during the Gulf War. The crowd was estimated at 200 university students from Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. Since tens of thousands of students attend colleges in these states, it is odd that the official campus paper tried to report the rally as if the support from college students was astronomical.

A spokesman for the Fund for the Feminist Majority —  although they are apparently not a majority, judging from the dismal attendance of the rally, and the fact that majorities generally don’t need funds — said that one teenage girl dies of an illegal abortion every three minutes. This misleading statistic adds up to over 150,000 deaths a year, which is more than 10 percent of all annual teenage pregnancies. It is difficult to believe that the U.S. population of pregnant teenage girls — if not all teenage girls in general — is being decimated at such a rate with no one voicing out-rage, not even the medical community.

No one at Smeal’s speech or the rally mentioned the death rates and number of complications resulting from legal abortions. The Center for Disease Control cites abortion in the late ’80s as the sixth most common cause of maternal deaths, infections, and abscesses. Other problems related to abortion cited by the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology in 1976, 1977, and 1983 are sterility, hemorrhaging, viral hepatitis, endometritis, cardio-respiratory arrest, urinary tract infections, and acute kidney failure. They did not even touch the psychological and emotional effects, which are just as common and devastating as the physical problems.

Another activity supported by the gender studies advocates is seminars on date rape, officially sponsored by the Butler Safety Department. Paranoia about date rape has gotten so intense that men are almost afraid to smile on a date for fear of being accused of a felony. Not only are they told by feminists that they are the perpetrators of a host of criminal acts in history such as slavery, they are now considered potential rapists — definitely people to watch suspiciously and not to trust. The same women who sought to destroy the traditional chivalric ideal (which included such precepts as never taking advantage of an intoxicated woman) because they considered it to be sexist and who sought to gain women the “right” to be immoral, are now outraged at men for not treating women better. They warn young girls to be constantly on their guard against these beasts. Some women wish they could go back to the days of chaperons, so afraid are they are being overpowered on a date. Men now wince before opening a door for a female stranger, unsure whether or not they will have abuse heaped upon them for being polite.

More men are waiting until marriage to engage in sex, because at least then a man can usually be sure that the woman won’t have second thoughts about the night before and have him arrested in the morning. (Not even this is certain, however; charges of “marital rape” are budding in feminist circles — and circuit courts.)

Women’s studies is now on its way to becoming a major at Butler. It will first be offered in the fall as a “mini-minor,” then in the spring as a minor and a major. It is doubtful that the program will be popular or successful, particularly when there are still not enough sections to go around of either required core curriculum classes or honors seminars. If the major survives, it will probably be because the faculty wills it to remain, or because students wind up taking women’s studies classes to fill up their schedules in order to remain full-time students, when nothing else is available.

Despite the attempts by Planned Parenthood and the Gender Studies Committee to indoctrinate incoming freshmen, there are simply not enough feminists at Butler to fill a classroom for a free lecture by Eleanor Smeal, let alone a major in which they must pay per credit hour to hear the same “information.” Butler women are busy getting their assignments and ironing done on time, attending parties on the weekends, and worrying about friends and relatives stationed in the Persian Gulf. If this be apathy, let’s make the most of it.


  • Kimberly J. Gustin

    At the time this article was published, Kimberly J. Gustin was a student at Butler University.

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