South Dakota Shenanigans

02.19.15 11:10 PM ET

Planned Parenthood: No, We Are Not #WorseThanISIS

And it's insane we even have to state that.

Meet Isaac Latterell. He’s a South Dakota state legislator you’ve probably never heard of, who wants to ban abortion, so he’s pushing an extreme bill through the state legislature—and getting some attention for it by claiming that Planned Parenthood is “worse than ISIS.”

You read that right, and it’s not a story in The Onion.

The easy thing to do when an elected official says that you’re worse than the world’s most menacing terrorist group is to ignore it. Nobody wants to give that kind of vitriol any more attention than it would otherwise get on its own. But we call B.S. where we see it, and we see a lot of it here.

Let’s be clear: This is a man who has championed an agenda being pushed forward by the same groups that harass and scream at women on their way into health centers. His bill has nothing to do with medicine or good health care. It’s just another part of a broader campaign to ban abortion entirely.

That’s Rep. Latterell’s focus.

Planned Parenthood’s focus is providing preventive health care and education to women, men, and young people, and ensuring that women have full agency to decide whether and when to have families.

Here’s what Planned Parenthood does every day: We provide birth control, lifesaving cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and other health care services. We provide sex education to help ensure that young people are safe and healthy. And we provide abortion services to women who make the decision to end a pregnancy. We ensure that people have all the information, options, and support that they need to make their own health care decisions. That’s why one in five women in America has turned to Planned Parenthood for health care at some point in her life.

Last year alone, Planned Parenthood provided health care services to 2.7 million patients and sex education and outreach to 1.5 million young people and adults.

Worse than ISIS? Tell that to Colleen Luther.

When she was 27, Colleen felt a lump in her breast. Terrified, she called Planned Parenthood for an appointment. She was diagnosed with stage two breast cancer, when it was early enough to beat it. After 11 years, she’s cancer-free. “The doctors and nurses at Planned Parenthood held my hand the whole way,” she says, “and they helped save my life.”

She isn’t alone. Planned Parenthood provided care to 1,698 patients in South Dakota in 2013—including some of Rep. Lattrell’s constituents. They rely on us for everything from STD testing to cancer screenings to abortion services, and we’ll always be here for them.

We are extraordinarily proud of all of the work we do at Planned Parenthood. We help ensure that women across South Dakota and around the country can get the full range of health services and information that help them reach their full potential. We believe that everyone should have access to care, no matter who they are or where they live, and we believe that all women must be able to make their own health care decisions.

The good news is that the public knows exactly what we do at Planned Parenthood—and we know exactly where they stand. Nearly 80 percent of the American public wants to ensure that abortion remains safe and legal. By double digits, voters in South Dakota have twice rejected ballot initiatives that would have banned abortion.

At the end of the day, Rep. Isaac Lattrell doesn’t have a problem with Planned Parenthood. He has a problem with his own constituents—and with millions of people all around the country who know us quite well.

Eric Ferrero is the vice president for communications for Planned Parenthood Federation of America.