The ongoing battle over whether women should have the legal
right to choose an abortion is a blessing in disquise.
This is the belief of John Thompson, spokesman for Planned
Parenthood of Central Oklahoma, an affiliate of the Planned
Parenthood Federation of America Inc. in New York.
"The phone has been ringing off the hook with people wanting to
volunteer their services," he said. "We're getting a lot of
suggestions from talented people."
"Once pro-choice supporters pull together an effective
campaign, it will have a lot more political leverage for other
pro-children and pro-family issues," he said.
Thompson is confident the pro-choice movement will win and
predicts it will mobilize the movement one step further into a new
The local non-profit organization annually serves 21,500 people
with a comprehensive medical education program and 10,000 patients
in clinics. It also provides medical and educational services to
low-income, high risk patients.
Planned Parenthood has begun distributing petitions supporting
keeping abortion safe and legal.
"We're aiming for a million signatures from across the country,"
The national organization has already identified 500,000
pro-choice supporters nationwide and hopes to compile the results by
the end of summer. About 1.5 million abortions are performed
annually, Thompson said.
Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma is in the process of
studying the U.S. Supreme Court ruling and the effects on Oklahoma.
Under the ruling of the divided high court, states are free to
impose new restrictions on abortions, creating the climate for a
flurry of legislative activity in the Oklahoma legislature early
"My concern is that we're studying the ruling and the laws as
carefully as we can - but others won't give the same care and will
introduce legislation without thinking through the social policy
implications.," Thompson said. "Just because the state has the power
to introduce legislation doesn't mean it should."
"As of now, the court hasn't given the states a blank check to
regulate abortion out of existence," he said.
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor said in Monday's
ruling that the states' right to impose new restrictions on abortion
are constitutional since they "do not place a `heavy and unnecessary
burden' on a woman's abortion decision."
Thompson said he is not happy with the ruling, because it is
turning constitutional issues into political issues.
"The right of privacy is a constitutional issue like freedom of
speech or the right to vote," he said. "To turn that right over to
politics is a problem."
Nationwide, Planned Parenthood is working for better methods of
contraception, Thompson said. But they are at loggerheads with
pro-lifers who while denouncing abortion also oppose the most
effective methods of birth control, sex education and additional
investments in research for contraception.
Planned Parenthood would prefer to be able to put all of its
resources into sex education, prenatal care and nutrition programs
for children and other family-oriented programs it has always
offered, but is restricted by lack of support in preventative
programs that seek to reduce unwanted pregnancies, Thompson said.
Thompson said it is often forgotten that abortion is not a
preferred choice by anyone, but in most cases is considered the best
possible option considering the alternatives. …