We recently talked with Dr. Christopher Estes from Planned Parenthood to learn more about the organization. He is the chief medical officer at Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida. We especially wanted to talk with Planned Parenthood during these political times in this election year.
Planned Parenthood is an organization that is a healthcare provider for over 100 years that focuses upon women’s health and issues surrounding the ability to make informed healthcare decisions about one’s health, sex and family planning. Planned Parenthood provides health care services to 2.7 million people and sexual education to approximately 1 million people yearly. (reference)
The mission of Planned Parenthood is to (reference their website)
- to provide comprehensive reproductive and complementary health care services in settings which preserve and protect the essential privacy and rights of each individual
- to advocate public policies which guarantee these rights and ensure access to such services
- to provide educational programs which enhance understanding of individual and societal implications of human sexuality
- to promote research and the advancement of technology in reproductive health care and encourage understanding of their inherent bioethical, behavioral, and social implications
Interview below with Dr. Christopher Estes
How has Planned Parenthood changed since it was originally founded?
The original mission was to take care of women, but it has now evolved to take care of men and women. And this really is the same idea, but as healthcare has evolved over last 100 years, so have we to include the health and well-being of men. And so while the systems, technology, and procedures have evolved, the general principles remains true to the original, which is to take care of patients.
Why is the work at Planned Parenthood considered so political, when the work that you do is medical?
Women’s health is politically charged because of people’s feelings towards it, and that it not just limited to abortion but also extends to contraception which, to some people is also a controversial topic. The diagnosis of sexually transmitted diseases is another area that is controversial, though should not be, simply because of the stigma that is often associated. There are also issues around sex, and sex in and of itself conjured controversy for some people. And it is really this differences in opinion that is the center of the issues. This culminates into the beliefs and judgments of what types of reproductive health care people should and can have access to.
What are your thoughts about the videos that were created and found to be false about Planned Parenthood?
This is just another deceitful attack by those who oppose what we do. This is not new. People have done deceitful things to try and create media controversy around Planned Parenthood in the past, and other organizations like us, to try to discredit us and put is in a bad light. This particular strategy of creating videos may be new, but is not a new idea. It really just shows that those who are opposed to Planned Parenthood will go to extremes for their agenda, and even do things that are unethical and quite possibly illegal. But at the end, it is just one more attack, and we don’t anticipate that it is stopping anytime soon.
Who are the type of people who choose to work at Planned Parenthood?
Folks who are involved in the work of Planned Parenthood are dedicated to the mission and idea that reproductive health care is a basic human right and worth working towards and standing up for. There are those of us who do this, have a hard time seeing ourselves doing something else, because we are passionate about it. Most who work here are open, compassionate, caring, and dedicated towards their patients. And we choose to work here, which is an important differentiator. People who work for PP do end up getting a lot more reward than simply being at a job that provides a paycheck. It allows one to have a job where they can work towards helping people and in a setting which may be a last resource for patients who may not have other options, and this goes beyond abortion. It can include people who have no insurance but need a yearly pap smear, or people who have questions about sex and want a place to go where they are not judged. Other areas in medicine may be more judgmental about sex and gender identity, but people can come ot PP regardless of their sexual orientation and ask question without being judged.
How can the public show support
There is a lot of great social media campaigns. Donations are important as we are a not for profit organization. There is your own individual advocacy that you can do at state level politics which may be even more important than national politics with regards to reproductive rights. Call your senator and local government representations. People may feel disempowered but your voice does matter, especially when everyone brings their voices together.
And it is important for people to vote! Don’t think your vote doesn’t matter, pay attention to the candidates, and their records, and think about how you may feel with this person in power, and then vote with those considerations. It’s not necessary to go to every political rally or donation thousands of dollars, but every little bit counts.
Altman, Alex. How the Planned Parenthood Video Mastermind Got Charged. Time Magazine. January 26, 2016. [link]