I try to keep my political rants to myself, but why should I remain silent? Right now, more than ever, I need to say something about Planned Parenthood and what it means to me, as a young woman in the United States.
We’ve all heard of this non-profit organization. Many of us came into puberty to learn Planned Parenthood was one of the only options for low-cost or uninsured sexual healthcare. Recently, however, it has been a topic of heated debate. Those undercover videos of doctors talking. We have heard on-going arguments about how “evil” the organization is because they are “selling fetal tissue for profit.” However, the truth behind the video’s allegations I will leave up to the individual to decide because the facts are well-documented. Planned Parenthood has always remained transparent on how they function as a non-profit. I want to start by saying I understand reproductive health is a sensitive topic for many people, and for a variety of reasons. I respect that. How and where someone choses to address their health is the root of my argument. I am here to stand with Planned Parenthood, because women need these services. Plain and simple, access to care cannot and will not be taken away from us.
After initially writing this article in my morning journal, I put out a Facebook status to my friends asking them to share their first exposure to PP and their experiences. I was astonished at how many men and women responded. I found myself overwhelmed by people of all ages describing Planned Parenthood as “a great place to get birth control pills, std testing and pregnancy tests without embarrassment or shame.” Over and over again, my inbox filled with people bravely sharing their stories and describing gratitude for all that Planned Parenthood has to offer. One woman wrote to me that she waited for 5 hours in the ER to have her implant birth control removed, only to eventually be sent home with a narco prescription. She found a Planned Parenthood in her area, and was able to have the device removed immediately. This was also my experience as a teenager, because it was well known through school-sponsored sexual education that this organization was here for anyone, regardless. I received my first birth control prescription from my local clinic and was protected before I was ever sexually-active. No insurance or co-pays required, Planned Parenthood exists to provide women with the services they need to feel safe and secure. Because of this, I firmly believe Planned Parenthood is a positive thing for young women. From physical health to the psychological empowerment of knowledge, I believe in the right to unbiased health care, not just for women but for all. I believe that birth control and access to healthy options for unplanned pregnancies has driven feminism into the forefront of our generation, and overall drastically improved our quality of life. Choice. Women, for the first time in our parent’s lives, have the right to choose when and with whom to start a family. Why, I ask myself and anyone reading this, would one of the most fiercely pro-life/anti-choice, conservative parties of our nation’s history be so opposed to Planned Parenthood? A majority of women I know, myself included, visit Planned Parenthood for much more than abortions. Breast and cervical cancer screenings. STD testing. HIV testing. Birth control. Mental health check-ups. Free condoms. Education on how to communicate with your partner about using protection. Their services are vast and varied and it is imperative that young women, nationwide, have access to them. Now to the most controversial aspect of this organization, abortion services. Legally, Planned Parenthood is NOT ALLOWED to put federal funding toward any abortion services, meaning federal funding of this non-profit organization is not paying for abortions, but instead directly contributing to the preventative health of women across this country.
Today, the GOP passed a bill through the house freezing their funding for one year. Planned Parenthood requires this funding in order to operate and cover all the services I previously mentioned. “Most of the organization’s $450 million yearly in federal money — a third of its overall budget — comes from Medicaid reimbursements for treating low-income clients, and virtually none of it can be used for abortions.” Why, I ask again, would a passionately pro-life/anti-choice American want to decrease access to birth control? Doesn’t that seem contradictory to the root of this hypothetical person’s beliefs? If someone is pro-life, then would complete and total access to birth control not be the logical thing to fund for our young generation? Could someone truly believe that eliminating a nationwide healthcare system such as Planned Parenthood would lead to less unplanned pregnancies and in turn, less abortions? It is 2015 and we all know if women cannot access birth control, we will not just magically become asexual and chose abstinence. I can’t help but ask myself, if the GOP aims to de-fund $450 million dollars from Planned Parenthood, where would that money be going? And in all honesty, what options will there be for our youth? I try to maintain a positive outlook because in the US, we are truly fortunate to have the freedoms we have. And when it comes to sexuality, I feel we have been leaders in the progressive history of women’s choice (i.e, Roe vs. Wade). But when I really listen to the way many politicians are speaking about this issue, I feel personally threatened. I listen to the GOP party candidates reminisce on Ronald Reagan and I have begun to understand that half of our nation wants to bring us 50 years back. Roe vs. Wade passed in 1973. Yet here we are, in 2015, fighting for our voice and our respect.
I can’t help but feel like I am fighting for the recognition that I, a woman, could possibly be capable of making the best choice for myself. And that leaves me infuriated. My generation is jaded and I’m the first to say why. But we can’t stay quiet, we can’t let the Kardashians dominate our news-feeds. We are in the threshold of a presidential race that could have devastating effects to not only our lives, but our children’s. The de-funding of Planned Parenthood affects every sexually active person in this nation and we must stand together because if we do not, who will? I stand for my fellow women and I stand with Planned Parenthood.