It seems Planned Parenthood is in constant battle with conservative legislators (men, in particular) in the political spectrum. This month, Republican governor Mitch Daniels signed into law a bill in Indiana that strips Planned Parenthood of all Medicaid funding: in essence, any state funds for the organization. The bill also restricts the organization’s ability to perform abortions on any woman more than 20 weeks pregnant. On top of that, there are all sorts of other measures: counseling, adoption consulting, and mandatory parental consent for women under the age of 18. These may seem to be common sense measures, but anyone who looks into Planned Parenthood’s practices or has ever been a patient there would know that these measures are already being done. So, again, it’s trademark Republican nonsense: spending taxpayer money to make into law redundant and pointless measures that are already being widely used.
Nevermind the fact that reproductive choice is a private matter and not, in this author’s opinion, an issue to be decided upon in the political stage. But placing that aside, what should be angering EVERY woman—whether pro-choice or pro-life— is the utter ignorance of these new laws being signed that not only does NOTHING to curtail the number of abortions performed annually, but cuts off access to basic reproductive care for millions of poor and low-income women.
But I won’t preach. I’ll share. I was one of those low-income earners. I was the working poor. Planned Parenthood was instrumental in my well-being.
As a student in college with no parental help in medical care (as my age made me ineligible for my mother’s medical insurance), I depended on Planned Parenthood to be my gynecologist: screenings, birth control, HIV testing, emergency care; anything I needed. Once a month I was there for my Pill prescription, and twice a year I was there for my annual Pap smear. Once a year, I was there for HIV/STD testing (as every single girl should make sure to do), and only once was I there for emergency gynecological care.
What is also most upsetting about this recent war on Planned Parenthood is the utter dismissal by Republicans/pro-life activists of these kinds of stories. Stories told by millions of women who have been helped by Planned Parenthood, me being one of them. Stories having nothing to do with abortion, as most women who get them pay for the ENTIRE bill either out-of-pocket or by their own medical insurance. Planned Parenthood already does not allocate ANY state or federal funding to abortions of any kind, in accordance with the Hynde Amendment passed in 1976. (In fact, Medicaid doesn’t fund abortion, anyway.) So why the fight? What’s the real agenda against Planned Parenthood? Is it really a religious undercurrent to this? There is NO place for religious stampeding when it comes to restricting another person’s rights as a consequence. This country was founded AGAINST these actions. That is why any religious contention for abortion is just useless. We are not all Christians or Catholics. Keep your religious nonsense to yourselves and off my body. (see my earlier post about it.)
If you know the answer to this question you know more than this author, because sometimes it just boggles this author’s mind. This battle against PP is as silly as terminating a sport because someone loses. As a result, no one gets to play. It’s similar here. Now because of this bill, poor and low-income women in Indiana are no longer able to use their state medical insurance Medicaid to pay for needed services like mammograms, Pap smears, HIV/STD testing, emergency care, or anything else. These services, which are already dirt-cheap, can be too costly to poor and low-income women. (I mean, c’mon, I pay $30 a month out-of-pocket for birth control and $50 for every gyno checkup out-of-pocket, and I work full-time. I’m ON the line between low-income and middle-income, and these services add up. I don’t have children and a food budget to worry about. Imagine how it is for lower-income and poor women.)
Also, it’s more than a financial attack on PP that worries me. As a young person making my way through the world, Planned Parenthood has always made me feel welcomed and safe. The atmosphere was accepting, non-judgmental and kind. As a young light-skinned single female I was a garden variety, but what about lesbians? What about trans-gendered women and men? Black women, poor women, rehabbed women? The staff at the numerous Planned Parenthood facilities I’ve visited over the years have been kind, helpful, accepting and always eager to share important health information that was relevant to me and others. I think the rock-bottom prices alone make the organization more than helpful than any hospital or doctor’s office; and they were more knowledgeable!
Here’s a similar story about how Planned Parenthood has helped needy women (besides cutting out innocent babies out of their wombs, as pro-life scare strategists like to claim):
From the Herald Bulletin:
Planned Parenthood workers are routinely called “baby killers” by pro-life demonstrators, but one Anderson woman says the organization helped her become a mother. Julie Couch, 46, was just 21 years old when she had her annual Pap test at the Merrillville Planned Parenthood clinic. At the time, Couch used the services at Planned Parenthood because she was broke and underinsured. “I was the working poor,” she said. Paying for birth control pills and health screenings were hardly an option on her minimum-wage salary, she said. “I was scraping pennies together for a can of soup,” she explained, recalling that a can of Campbell’s soup cost 18 cents in those days. Though her past exams had come back negative for abnormalities, the test Couch had in 1986 revealed that she had cervical cancer. Not just cervical cancer, either.
Couch had Stage III cervical cancer.
Planned Parenthood officials caught the cancer and referred her to a doctor who removed the cancerous cells from her cervix. The doctor told her that the rapid nature of her cancer meant she would have been faced with Stage IV metastatic cancer within six months if it hadn’t been detected at the clinic. She knew how bad things could get. Around that time, Couch’s girlfriend got cervical cancer and was forced to have a hysterectomy to save her life, leaving her barren. These days, Couch is a 46-year-old nurse and wife. She’s also a mother, something Couch says wouldn’t have been possible if Planned Parenthood hadn’t been there to provide low-cost medical screenings.
Just like Julie, I was broke and uninsured for many years, and still managed to keep myself in good health, thanks to Planned Parenthood. These are needed services, covered by Medicaid in many states—although no longer in Indiana—and are instrumental in keeping cancer rates low, unplanned pregnancies low and helps stop the spread of dangerous STDs. It’s not just cutting out baby parts and conspiring to convince unsure mothers to abort their children. In fact, abortions account for 3-6% of all procedures performed by Planned Parenthood just this past year.
Don’t let rich white men determine, ladies, how to manage your own body’s health and choices. It’s the worst kind of hypocrisy for Republicans today to call for the end of government involvement in private life/choices and yet, somehow, be adamant about limiting your access to health services; whatever they may be. Join the rallies, write your congresswoman, repost this on Facebook, donate to Planned Parenthood, or just talk to your daughter about the benefits of medical access for all; including her. Because you never know. She may already be good friends with Planned Parenthood, and you know what? That’s a good thing.