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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    A going-out-of- pregnancy sale?

    The beginning of each new semester is heralded by a glut of “”College Coupons”” books.

    In the wake of the spring 2008 coupon bonanza, you may have noticed an unusually valuable coupon, a bit behind the brow-wax offer and in front of the Blackjack Pizza ad.

    The coupon is good for $10 off any purchase of products or services of $25 or more … at Planned Parenthood Arizona. Seems to be some heavy content for a two-by-four inch coupon.

    There’s no need to get into an abortion debate, or a birth control debate or a promiscuity debate. Everybody, except perhaps presidential candidates and the occasional retarded penguin, has a firm position on these oft-beaten dead horses. The issue is that a $10 off coupon from Planned Parenthood Arizona (PPAZ) is tacky and tasteless. More important, the coupon raises questions about the organization, its mission and how much students should be willing to trust Planned Parenthood with their health.

    The coupon claims that PPAZ is “”a comfortable place to go for honest information and compassionate care.”” Sounds like an organization that wants all people, regardless of income or class, to have the opportunity (or the “”choice””) to access Planned Parenthood’s goods and services. Why, then, must PPAZ’s product be discounted in the first place? Sure, zany places like Whipped can get away with heaving, obscene markups on cupcakes, but a healthcare provider marking up services enough to subsequently discount them? By giving a coupon, PPAZ implicitly acknowledges its profit making potential within the bounds of its non-profit status (which doesn’t prohibit profit, but mandates that profit stay within the organization).

    Planned Parenthood describes itself as “”a trusted health care provider, an informed educator, a passionate advocate and a global partner helping similar organizations around the world.”” It supports lobbyists, receives millions in federal budget money every year (even approved by President Bush under Title X), funds campaigns to educate on sexual health and provides services ranging from Pap smears and diabetes tests to abortions.

    In other words, it’s got its hands in every sexual health cookie jar. If PPAZ is pushing a product, why should a consumer trust the claims more than they would trust a Chevrolet salesman’s pitch? When Planned Parenthood tells students that they need to be checked for sexually transmitted diseases if they’re sexually active, is it any more objective than the dealer saying that you need leather seats in your new car? Should anyone trust a salesman to give them objective, unbiased information, especially in a health-oriented industry like Planned Parenthood’s?

    Perhaps PPAZ simply wants to provide its service to as many people as possible, and uses the coupon to get the word out. That’s the tune to which Bridget Daly, a Planned Parenthood Arizona spokesperson, writes, stating, “”Currently we (PPAZ) provide over $2.5 million in uncompensated health care, with one out of four of our patients receiving free care.”” Just how “”uncompensated”” can that service be if PPAZ netted just over a million dollars in profit last year? The services to low-income patients are funded by PPAZ, which in turn is funded to surplus by donations, government grants and patient fees, all of which would decrease should the demand for Planned Parenthood dry up. You’ve got to spend money to make money, a rule that PPAZ’s subsidies to low income patients to follow.

    Planned Parenthood cares about women’s rights, reproductive freedom and easy access to its services insofar as these facilitate a thriving business. Planned Parenthood cares about itself and about expanding its influence, not about you. But, then, that wouldn’t be a very good slogan to print on a coupon.

    Don’t forget that behind every coupon is a marketing scheme. If that doesn’t bother you, then, by all means, stock up on those coupon books. No need to hurry, though: Planned Parenthood was at least wise enough to leave out an expiration date.

    Mike Hathaway is a senior majoring in geography and Spanish and Portuguese. He can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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