Health

Planned Parenthood Turns 100

| by Robert Fowler
A Planned Parenthood clinic in New Orleans, LouisianaA Planned Parenthood clinic in New Orleans, Louisiana

Planned Parenthood, the nonprofit organization that offers medical screenings, contraception and abortion services, has turned a century old.

Oct. 16 marked the first 100 years of Planned Parenthood, which began as the first U.S. birth control clinic in Brooklyn on Oct. 16, 1916. Established by nurse Margaret Sanger, Planned Parenthood pioneered contraception services during an era where birth control was largely outlawed, according to CNN.

Planned Parenthood has been one of the most controversial organizations in the U.S. While the nonprofit’s services largely include sexual education, contraception, screenings for sexually transmitted diseases and cancer, it also provides abortion services.

GOP lawmakers have been against Planned Parenthood and have repeatedly calling for the organization to be defunded for its abortion practices.

The first lawmaker to propose defunding the nonprofit was Republican Gov. Mike Pence of Indiana when he was a congressman in 2007. Pence is now the running mate of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

The organization has been at the center of the national debate over abortion for its entire existence. Advocates for Planned Parenthood have blasted its critics for denying women their right to choose.

“I think it’s been a very long, hard struggle over the course of the past century,” said professor Elizabeth Sherman of American University. “Ever since Margaret Sanger, ever since the early part of the 20th century, Planned Parenthood has been on the forefront of saying these services should not only be legal, but they should be available.”

The Pro-Life Action League held a weekend of prayer to commemorate Planned Parenthood’s centennial, advocating for the nonprofit to be destroyed on religious grounds, The Washington Times reports.

“To truly eradicate this evil from our society is going to take a massive transformation of our culture itself, not unlike the Great Awakening,” said the group’s executive director, Eric Scheidler.

Planned Parenthood issued an official statement celebrating its first 100 years and a promise to continue providing services.

“Every day, people line up at our health centers,” the organization said. “And every day, Planned Parenthood doctors, clinicians and staff open doors to provide expert, compassionate care — no matter what.”

Planned Parenthood endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton during the primaries, the first time that the nonprofit offered public support for a presidential candidate.

The Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the political arm of the nonprofit, is set to spend $30 million in Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to encourage Millennials to cast their ballot in the upcoming election, The New York Times reports.

Sources: CNN, The New York TimesThe Washington Times / Photo credit: Bryan Tarnowski/The New York Times

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