The Impact of Donating to Women’s Reproductive Health
Planned Parenthood records show that “Mike Pence” donated over 72,000 times since November 8 nationwide. The idea to donate in the Vice President-elect’s name spread through social media with celebrity backing. It showcased the dissatisfaction and potential threat that the governor of Indiana imposed to an organization supported by millions.
“Those donations, specifically, were in response to some of that fear based on what he’s done in the past,” said Tory Mills, a sexuality educator at Planned Parenthood in Knoxville.
Pence defunded Planned Parenthood in Indiana as governor in 2011 and supported substantial legislation pertaining to abortions. He is not the only one that opposes many areas of women’s reproductive health, and the donations are not the only way people are fighting against the threat to various resources provided to women in the Knoxville community and nation wide.
According to Planned Parenthood’s 2013–2014 Annual Report, only 3% of all services carried out were abortion services.
“We are incredibly proud to provide [abortion] services…but actually the vast majority of what we do are things like pap smears, breast exams, referrals, STD testing and treatment, HIV testing, of course birth control, pregnancy testing, and other options counseling for people that just want to talk out other pregnancy options,” said Mills.
Those who are donating and supporting Planned Parenthood are not just supporting abortion services but all areas of reproductive health. Mills believes that focusing conversation on such a small portion of their services is limiting discussion on root causes as to why it is considered a necessary part of reproductive health such as not having access to birth control or comprehensive sexual education in schools.
“We should be free to have sex and not be forced to worry about having an unplanned pregnancy because we didn’t have the necessary resources or information,” said Erik Rhoten, a local who donated to Planned Parenthood.
However, Planned Parenthood is not the only resource organization available in the Knoxville community. HOPE Resource Center has a different take on supporting women’s reproductive needs.
“We don’t do abortion here at HOPE Resource Center. Our mission as a pro-life clinic… is to serve the men and women of this community,” said Andrew Wood, executive director of HOPE.
Since opening in 1997, HOPE has served over 25,000 patients. All the services they provide are free and remain that way through donations. Similar to Planned Parenthood, STD testing and treatments are conducted and pregnancy testing is available; however, HOPE can conduct ultrasounds, provide parenting classes and mentorship, and give material assistance when needed. There are over 50 baby showers planned every year for first time moms that would not usually have the resources or support to have one.
Planned Parenthood and HOPE Resource Center both stated that they have seen the impact of their services throughout Knoxville, and both stressed the importance of serving the community and fulfilling the needs of the patients that come to them for assistance. However, their differences are clear.
“At core values we are very different entities. We are not an abortion clinic, and we want to be clear about that,” said Wood.
Despite their differences, the local Planned Parenthood office and HOPE Resource Centers continue to impact the Knoxville community by receiving support and donations from those that they serve.