Program offers sex education and advice

By Genevieve Adams

In light of the government’s recent vote to cut federal funding to clinics like Planned Parenthood, one local group is starting a campaign to inform people of what they think is the importance of these clinics.

A few weeks ago, the House of Representatives voted to pass the Pence Amendment, which would cut all Title X funding, or any federal funding, to Planned Parenthood.

Shevawn Akers and Jennifer Johnson are trying to raise awareness of what they think this clinic can do for Lexington.

Akers, a social worker in Lexington, and Johnson, a local sex education advocate, are two supporters and promoters of the program “Safe is Sexy,” and both plan to inform people about the importance of clinics like Planned Parenthood and how the termination of Title 10 funding will impact Lexington.

Akers said they organized for people who support their cause to mail postcards to Kentucky’s U.S. Senators.

“I want to write on here, ‘We’re watching your vote!’” Akers said.

Akers and Johnson plan to change the sometimes negative associations of Planned Parenthood in hopes people will see the good it can do for low-income people and Lexington as a city.

“People against abortion, they see Plan Parenthood as just ‘baby killers’ or ‘evil doers,’” Akers said. “And see, since the government gives them money for pap-smears, HIV tests, STD testing, that means federal government is funding abortions, which just isn’t the case.”

Akers said her mission is to educate the people of Lexington on why it’s important to keep Planned Parenthood in business.

“We don’t like abortions any more than the anti-abortion people,” Akers said. “However, you know without comprehensive sex education, without access to low-priced birth control, without access to free condoms and that kind of thing, there are going to be more unwanted pregnancies and unexpected pregnancies, and that’s the frustration.”

Johnson, who said she believes the problem of teen pregnancy is rooted in lack of sex education in schools, said if the clinic loses funding, opportunities to learn deteriorate.

Johnson said most of the work done at Planned Parenthood with teenagers is education and prevention.

Programs like “Let’s Talk” allow teens and their parents to talk about their morals as a family and where they stand on sex education, the mission being based on prevention.

“We know a lot of information teenagers get about sex is from each other,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately most of the time it’s inaccurate, so the more you can equip teenagers with accurate information to share with their peers it can be an empowering experience and it can reduce the risks, reduce the myths and help them make their decisions.”