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The Importance of Planned Parenthood

Womens' health suffers when we broadly villainize community organizations.

I was greatly saddened to hear that The Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation has this week decided to withdraw their funding of breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood locations nationwide. Cecile Richards has done a great job of summarizing the details of the foundation's decision, as well as pointing out the potential perils of their choice. I agree with her wholeheartedly.

The issue of reproductive rights is a touchy one, and understandably so. The sharp divide on the issue of abortion leads many to stand against and even up to organizations like Planned Parenthood that make this service available to women.

Yet villainizing the entire organization is a mistake. It ignores–and dismisses–the services Planned Parenthood provides that we do agree are crucial and important to the health of all women and children.

I spent the early part of my career touring with various recording artists and entertainment companies. Constantly away from home, it was impossible to stay current on my bi-annual gynecological exams. Or it would have been, were it not for Planned Parenthood.

Thanks to the organization, I and many women I traveled with were able to receive the check-ups we needed to maintain our health and wellness. And more than a few of my fellow singers, because of these check-ups, received news of abnormal test results that led to their taking action and getting care that otherwise may have resulted in life-threatening situations.

Not only does Planned Parenthood provide last minute appointments for those on tour or who travel for work. They provide free and drastically reduced gynecological services to those who might otherwise not get treatment, saving the lives of countless mothers and children. They provide affordable care for those who don't have, can't afford, or have lost their health insurance. They provide counseling for women and girls who have been abused, raped, or are in the process of being bullied or pressured into sex. They provide education on hygiene and wellness. They provide screening and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases.

No matter your views on abortion, Planned Parenthood is doing very important–and indeed, lifesaving–work. I understand that some people are uncomfortable with aspects of the services that the organization provides. And I respect that, and them. At the same time, I encourage everyone to remember that the issue of womens' reproductive health–and rights–is not black and white. In the gray areas, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of lives at stake.

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