I’d Like To Bare My Testimony. I know Planned Parenthood is True.

Today is Blog Carnival day! Blogs around the nation are stepping up and showing support for Planned Parenthood. I’m so thrilled that I could participate. I am an avid supporter of Planned Parenthood. As a public educator in Utah, I’ve seen how abstinence only lessons can go seriously awry. I have seen teenage pregnancies, young girls of 14 contracting herpes (and thinking they could get rid of it by spraying lemon juice on themselves), I’ve seen shame and guilt. I’ve seen fear of being sexual in any measure (from modesty to masturbation). I’ve seen it. You’ve seen it. And yet, the state of Utah is not allowed to teach anything other than Abstinence Only. But, to me, that’s only half an education at best (and sometimes no education at all). I am not of the belief that teaching your children how to be smart with their sexuality will cause them to go out and have more sex. Being informed is something we owe to every young man and young women.

For your reading pleasure, I have collected a few Abstinence Only lessons I’ve seen over the years and I have compared them with some current information you can find on the Planned Parenthood website.

Abstinence Only:

One popular classroom exercise employs Scotch Tape to demonstrate how premarital sex can make girls dirty. A teacher holds up a clear strip of tape, meant to represent a girl, in front of the class. The teacher then puts the strip of tape, adhesive side down, on the arm of a boy in the class, to symbolize his sexual relationship with the girl. The teacher rips off the tape (signifying the breakup, apparently) and holds it up again for the class to look at. Students are meant to see that the strip of tape—the girl—has picked up all kinds of dirt and hair from the boy’s arm and is no longer clean. Then, when the teacher tries to stick the same strip of tape to another boy’s arm, he or she notes that it doesn’t stick—they can’t bond! To end things with a bang, the abstinence educator makes a remark about the girl’s being “used” and therefore unable to have strong future relationships. (Jessica Valenti, The Purity Myth, 33).

Planned Parenthood:

What do you know about sex? What do you know about sexuality? We hear about sex and sexuality almost every day, but much of what we hear is inaccurate and can be confusing. A basic understanding of sex and sexuality can help us sort out myth from fact and help us all enjoy our lives more.

We are all sexual. We are sexual from the day we are born until the day we die. Our sexuality affects who we are and how we express ourselves as sexual beings.

Our sexuality includes

Abstinence Only:

Your body is a wrapped lollipop. When you have sex with a man, he unwraps your lollipop and sucks on it. It may feel great at the time, but, unfortunately, when he’s done with you, all you have left for your next partner is a poorly wrapped, saliva-fouled sucker.”  Darren Washington an abstinence educator at the Eighth Annual Abstinence Clearninghouse Conference. (Valenti, 41).

Planned Parenthood:

Some people have basic questions about how pregnancy happens. Some may have questions about avoiding a pregnancy. Others are considering pregnancy and have questions about pre-pregnancy health, or infertility. And some may wonder about options for an unintended pregnancy.

Many women need information about pregnancy tests. Pregnant women may also have questions about prenatal care and the stages of pregnancy. And women who are concerned about pregnancy loss may have lots of questions about miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy.

Only you can decide what is best for you when it comes to pregnancy. But we are here to help. A staff member at your local Planned Parenthood health center can talk with you about all of your pregnancy-related concerns. And we can help you get care that you need.

Abstinence Only:

A program in Nevada used its abstinence only state funding to run public radio service ads that said girls will feel “dirty and cheap” after having sex (these were eventually pulled due to public outrage.)


A popular abstinence product is a gold rose pin handed out in schools and at Christian youth events. The pin is attached to small card that reads, “You are like a beautiful rose. Each time you engage in pre-martial sex, a precious petal is stripped away. Don’t leave your future husband holding a bare stem. Abstain.” Again, I’m not an advocate for teenage sex, but do we really want to keep teaching our daughters that without their virginity, they’re nothing but a “bare stem”? And more than this, the consequences that are told to the young girls: that they will be dirty, tainted, damaged goods, or bare stems–none of these things relates to the girls’ inner sense of self, but are mainly words used to describe how MEN will view and treat women who have been sexual.

My Testimony:

Planned Parenthood has provided so many resources to many women in my life. I grew up in a home of five girls, and three of us have gotten most of what we know about our own sexuality, how to protect ourselves, and how to be smart about when we choose to have sex from resources given by Planned Parenthood. It’s changed my life. It’s made my life so much better. I have a testimony of Planned Parenthood. I have a testimony of condoms and safe sex, I know that many of our teenagers are going to have pre-marital sex without a shadow of a doubt. I know that better than giving kids up for adoption or getting rid of an unwanted pregnancy is a valuable education to begin with about having safe sex. I know with every fiber of my being that sex can be safe if we are informed. Our kids deserve it. Our kids deserve to know the realities of sex and how to avoid STDs, pregnancies, and other issues. Our kids deserve more than abstinence only education.

Please share your testimony of Planned Parenthood with us.

I'm an artist, writer, photographer, feminist, listener, lover, and a fighter. I believe that travel is fatal to prejudice, that skies are meant to be blue, and that the world is full of endless possibilities.


  1. I know Planned Parenthood is true, also. I’ve gone for proof of pregnancy so I could later get a birth certificate for my son. The wait in the waiting room was long and arduous (especially 31 weeks pregnant and with a 2 year old!), but I’m grateful for the fact it exists. There were men and women of all ages and colors waiting alongside me and I’m glad our community has benefited from the health care they provide.

  2. Those abstinence-only messages make me feel so awful. Way to shame people into hating their bodies. Yikes. Luckily, my sex-ed teacher (in Utah, so it was also abstinence-only) didn’t say anything awful like that. I don’t know what the parameters are for health teachers, but she seemed to do whatever she could to help us avoid diseases, short of bringing condoms to class. She was very professional and practical, from what I remember.
    What’s unfortunate is that I got plenty of the rose and lollipop lessons in YW, with just a little side of repentance and forgiveness through the Atonement.

    Also, the Planned Parenthood website has been instrumental in preparing me to become sexually active and to learn about my body and helped me know what to expect when I went to my first gynecologist appointment (sort of.). Yes, my mom has taught me a lot, but Planned Parenthood taught me a lot about how my body works when it comes to sex.

    • I know Utah is supposed to be an abstinence only state – and can I just say – I think I had a great teacher – She taught us about various forms of contraception and lectured on pregnancy and the importance of sexual health. There was also a strong emphasis on abstinence, but I also learned about condoms and birth control and it was a pretty good section of our health class.

      My teacher DID bring condoms to class. She didn’t hand them out – but she did demonstrate their use. In fact, she put one on her hand and said, “girls, if a boy ever tells you he’s too big for a condom,” and here she rolled the thing UP HER ARM, “RUN!” Which made everyone laugh and then she continued on her lecture on how to use condoms.

      • Haha, I love the condom on her arm thing. It’s so memorable, and I bet it helped at least a couple of girls in the class.

  3. I have no experience with Planned Parenthood one way or another, but I just had to say that those abstinence messages…. yeeech.

    I happen not to have had sex until I got married (and funnily enough, in the complete absence of analogies containing bare stems or dirty tape), but one of the things my then-fiance said that I have treasured was when I asked him how he would feel if I’d had sex before, and he said, “No, it wouldn’t bother me particularly.” That told me he valued me as a person and not as a vagina or some sort of pure pedestaled… thing.

  4. Things I like about Planned Parenthood:

    * For many young women who have been taught abstinence only, the Ob-Gyn is seen as someone you visit only after you get engaged and are going to marry soon. This is just terrible in terms of good health practice. Even sexually abstinent young women should have regular well-women exams (which they can get at a GP, but many women see an gynecologist for them). PP makes these exams easily available and very affordable for young women, whether sexually active or not, who know they’ll face a certain stigma if they ask their parents to take them to an Ob-Gyn on the family health care plan.

    * PP makes necessary services available very affordably for women in lower income classes and who do not have insurance. At points when I have not had insurance, I have taken advantage of that fact in order to get regular check-ups.

    * When I have gone to PP for services, I have been treated so well by the practitioners, who have explained every step of the exam process as they went, made sure I was comfortable and okay with what was happening, etc.–more so than has been my experience in some of my traditional doctors’ offices.

    * I find a great deal of integrity of message at PP, an integrity I often find lacking in the messages of abstinence-only sex-ed proponents and pro-life advocates. I simply do not understand arguing that we want to keep young people from prematurely engaging in sexual activity and then taking the approach of fostering ignorance as a means to do so (not all, but some abstinence-only programs do foster ignorance; the examples above illustrate that fact). I do not understand arguing for minimizing the number of abortions that happen and then working *against* the very institutions that will make contraceptives and sex education easily and affordably available–and even arguing against contraception and sex education altogether. I appreciate the consistency and integrity I generally find in PP’s messages.

    * I am a fan of empowering women to take control of their sexuality. The kind of no-nonsense, even handed presentation of information and options available at PP is a vitally necessary element of allowing women to own and control their own sexuality.

    I’m a fan of PP. I’ve sought care there when I didn’t have other options. I’ve occasionally donated. And I don’t really care much if that means that there are some Mormons out there who think that means I should be disqualified from full participation (donating to PP was listed in a couple of comments on our recent temple recommend post as an unacceptable “affiliation” with an organization opposed to the church which should/could mean having to answer “yes” to that particular question and therefore not be allowed to go to the temple; of course, I also donated to the campaign against Prop. 8 and disagreed publicly and vehemently with the church’s stance on that, too so I guess I have two strikes against me in some Mormons’ minds when it comes to my temple-worthiness).

  5. Amelia, I find that outstanding that they would ask you in a temple recommend interview about PP and that would disqualify you from going to the temple. That’s ridiculous! My sister-in-law is a Physician’s Assistant there and she is a temple recommend holder. Also, I know that Planned Parenthood quite often refers patients to LDS Family Services if they are interested in adoption services. This sounds like someone’s misguided opinion in your Stake, instead of actually coming down from the First Presidency.

    I also have a testimony of Planned Parenthood. I went there when I was a newlywed for birth control because our insurance company refused to cover it at that time (hmm, they would cover Viagra). They were extremely kind to me and I got more attentive service there than I did when I started seeing a regular OB/GYN. I know my SiL has seen lives changed through her work. She said when she started out, she was really judgmental (growing up LDS in Utah and all) and now she just has total compassion for the people she sees there. Interesting enough, she pointed out that a lot of women who go there are middle class who don’t qualify for Medicaid and can’t afford private insurance.

    • Totally agreed, Risa. I can see I wasn’t very clear. The idea that PP is somehow opposed to the church was advanced by a commenter or two on another post at this blog, not by my SP. I think it’s entirely possible that a SP might subscribe to that idea, too (after all SPs get called from the ordinary membership), but I think most wouldn’t.

  6. I get the implications from the ultra-conservative that if PP went away, so would almost all abortions. I doubt that very much. I also get implications that only the poor, or “lower class” people get STD’s. Not true.

    Object lessons for abstinence only education seem just as bad as those horrid object lessons on morality for YW. To say nothing of what they both do to those raped or molested.

  7. Utah has some of the lowest if not the lowest rates of abortion, std’s, and (unwed) teen pregnancy in the country. And you think their sex ed program is destructive? Based on a few personal experiences? You could find similar tragedies in any state, under any program. Look at the big picture.

    • Perhaps it’s low for unwed teen pregnancy because parents & the church can’t stand to let girls keep the baby and not be married.

      • Perhaps? You are really trying here.

        Isn’t it more likely that a lot of girls in Utah don’t have sex before marriage, and that is the reason?

    • Thank you, allquieton, for clarifying your statement. Looking at the Utah Department of Health online birth certificate database, we see that 73% of Utah teens giving birth in 2009 were unmarried. Of course, as Alex pointed out, many of the 27% who were married may have gotten married after they became pregnant as a result of their pregnancy. I see teen pregnancy as a problem, even if, or especially if, the teen marries her boyfriend as a result of the pregnancy. I also see teenagers getting married and immediately having children as a problem. Babies born to married Utah teenagers and unmarried Utah teenagers have the same infant mortality rate: 7.6/1,000 births. In contrast, Utah overall has an infant mortality rate of 4.1/1,000. Babies are safer when they are born to women who are not teenagers.

  8. Okay, I have a testimony of Planned parenthood and of how much it serves the community, But, I double dog dare anyone here to say this at the next fast and testimony meeting you have. I’ve gave a testimony one time saying that it was quite okay to have doubts about your testimony as long as you did something about it instead of letting your testimony lay dormant, I was met by cold stairs, I bet if we all said something about planned parenthood we would be greeted by the same.

  9. “I have a testimony of condoms and safe sex, I know that many of our teenagers are going to have pre-marital sex without a shadow of a doubt. I know that better than giving kids up for adoption or getting rid of an unwanted pregnancy is a valuable education to begin with about having safe sex. I know with every fiber of my being that sex can be safe if we are informed. Our kids deserve it. Our kids deserve to know the realities of sex and how to avoid STDs, pregnancies, and other issues. Our kids deserve more than abstinence only education.”

    Amen, Sister.

  10. The apostacy on this site never ceases to amaze me. By supporting Planned Parenthood, you support abortion and the killing of innocent lives.

      • allquieton, since you seem unable to wrap your head around the fact that this isn’t your blog and you must abide by the comment policy, your commenting privileges are being taken away. It’s also very problematic that you think Janna’s comment was ugly and rude, but you cannot see your own hypocrisy.

        And for the record, Janna’s comment was pointing out a very real phenomenon where men swoop into feminist conversations and talk down to those trying to have a real discussion. Janna was pointing that out with a strong voice, and even a little humor! If you read it as ugly and rude, then examine why it makes you feel that way. And consider not commenting until you really understand what’s taking place here. If anyone’s comments were ugly and rude, they were yours when you lashed out before you could see what Janna was saying, and why.

    • Bill 97% of what planned parenthood does has nothing to do with abortion.

      And yes, I do support a woman’s right to have a say in what goes on in her vagina. I can tell you one thing, if men were the ones responsible for baring babies, there would be abortion gum invented by now. Yep. It would be that easy.

    • Also, Bill, you have violated the comment policy in that we do not allow calling people out on their righteousness. You are perfectly allowed to be amazed by our so-called apostasy, but keep it to yourself.

      And even though it’s not against our comment policy to tell people what they think and what they support, it’s not very decent. Keep the tone respectful, and consider that you might not be the representative for all people’s perspectives on this issue.

  11. Bill–what I am saying that is apostate? Why do all conservatives jump to all this baby killing? Why the scare tactics? What’s so scary about teaching safe sex?

    And @Allquieton…your tone is in violation of comment policy. Please review comment policy and grow up. Add to a dialogue and if you can’t do that, then you don’t need to be here.

    • Do you detect any of this “tone” in yours or Janna’s posts? (This is an earnest question–I am curious about it.)

  12. Amen! I am SHOCKED sometimes by the counter-productive policies of extreme conservatives, and the unfortunate fact that there are a good number of LDS individuals who fall into that category. I work for 2-1-1 Information and Referral in Utah County (a help line for individuals looking for community resources; kind of like 4-1-1 but for non-profits and government agencies). One of my co-workers was told/reprimanded, when asking why Planned Parenthood isn’t listed as one of the agencies we give referrals to (since it is supposed to be comprehensive), that in Utah County we are prohibited to refer anyone to Planned Parenthood, and even if they ask specifically we cannot give any information or even suggest other ways they could find out that information. In case our donors and supporters catch wind of such an offense… It’s horrifying to me. There are so many important services offered by PP, but because of the abortion issue everything else is entirely ignored, to the detriment of many. A friend of mine works with refugees and victims of human trafficking, and PP is sometimes the only source available to her clients for medical attention at all. (Which delves into some other issue with our health care system and resources available to refugees and trafficked persons). But the point is, PP does really great things in our community and throughout our country. I just wish people weren’t blind to that!

    Thanks for the post!

    • Also, while many PPs across the nation offer abortions, the PP in Utah does not. They offer preventive health screens and tests and contraception. That’s sad you can’t give people information to get those services.

      • Actually, Alisa, one of the SLC locations for PP does provide abortion services. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear their Utah Valley location does not, however. I think all of the other Utah locations refer patients needing abortion services to either the SLC location or one out of state that’s closer.

  13. The LDS church considers abortion to be a sin close to murder, albeit forgiveable in this life. By supporting an organization that actively supports abortions, you are going against the teachings of the church. In addition, you cannot answer the temple interview question “do you support a group that teaches against the ideals of the church (rephrased)” in the negatory, and thus making you unworthy to enter the temple.

    I’m all for a woman’s right to choose contraceptive. I’m all against a woman’s right to take another’s life.

    • What you say is completely true – the Mormon church considers abortion is a serious sin. The thing is, I don’t. I am very glad for services given to girls and women that allow this choice.

    • “The LDS church considers abortion to be a sin close to murder, albeit forgiveable in this life.”
      Close. The handbooks states that abortion is allowable (ie not a sin) in cases of rape, incest and for the life/health of the mother. I fully support women having access to abortion in all of those cases. But in order for women to have access in those cases then someone has to be able to perform the procedure. The mere existence of planned parenthood is not contrary to any of the church’s teachings. That they perform a procedure more freely than the church teaches is acceptable doesn’t make the entire organization and their supporters de facto sinners.
      While in I was in college my relief society president worked at the local planned parenthood.

    • Bill, you’re failing to notice that the Church’s stance on abortion is very, very liberal — the exceptions listed in the handbook are crucial.

      Furthermore, please remember that you are not the person holding temple recommend interviews for anyone participating in this blog.

  14. So, this is a great podcast of “To the Point” with Warren Olney, that aired last week. It’s toward the latter portion of the show, but he discusses some of the factors contributing to the growth of the middle class in Mexico, and decreased immigration from Mexico to the US. One of the factors that figures quite highly is family planning in Mexico. More options for women, lower birth rates, more resources available for each child. I believe that the Mexican government consulted with the Catholic church, and the church did not oppose the measures taken in Mexico. Amazing how giving women more control over their lives helps improve the social conditions of nations.

  15. Hmmm…I don’t know why I am commenting when no one will see this as it is a very old post. I just thought I should add that the examples of “abstinence only” teaching methods on this post do not resemble AT ALL the way I’ve seen it taught. I personally teach my children (two teenagers and two younger kids) that sex is meant to be an expression of love. I teach them that sex is beautiful. But I also teach them that the use of ANY protection does not guarantee that a pregnancy will not occur. I teach them that the choice to have sex means that one could potentially conceive a child with or without protection. If one conceives a child, the options available are either adoption, abortion or to personally raise the child. For a teenager (or anyone unprepared) to go through any one of those options is life-altering and painful. For a teenager to give up a child for adoption? Heart-breaking. For a teenager to go through an abortion? Heart-breaking!! For a teenager to raise a child? That teenager will be closing doors of opportunity for herself, missing out on age-appropriate experiences and she will probably experience the sort of financial and emotional struggles that no one should ever experience. Statistics show that the child of such a teenage mother is likely to have less access to opportunities than children born to older, more prepared mothers. Are those options worth the shallow experience of teenage sexual experimentation?

    However, it is important to teach your children that no matter what feelings, choices or mistakes they make, they are unconditionally loved and supported by their parents. I would never condemn nor shame my children. Love is always the best approach! My children know I love them and want to maximize their opportunities to succeed in life. My 16 year old daughter is extremely ambitious and has big career goals! She is quite the feminist. She knows when I teach her that abstinence gives her her best odds chance at accomplishing her goals, it is because I am championing her! She doesn’t want to close any doors of opportunity just because a guy will tell her what she wants to hear for 10 minutes.

    I should also mention that I live in Iowa City, Iowa, an extremely liberal city that does not teach abstinence only. They approach sex ed from the stance of protection, protection, protection! But their teen pregnancy rate is comparable to any other city across the nation.

  16. Congrats for cheering on the organization that is responsible for the biggest genocide the world has ever known. There are other organizations that help women without supporting abortion, there is no need to cheer on the biggest murderer the world has ever seen.

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