While I’ve had the luxury to lecture on how reproductive technology – such as egg freezing – should be more systematically covered by health insurance, there is a male-led conservative movement swelling (pun intended) that poses a threat to basic women’s health care issues and reproductive rights. I hate to get overly political because I’m not exactly an expert on politicians and their policies; to be honest, my main source of current events is Jon Stewart – and that’s when I’m in a ‘smart’ mood (what will I do now that he’s off air?!).
In all seriousness, the latest Planned Parenthood debacle, and last night’s display of social conservatism at the GOP presidential debate is a big problem – one that will mostly effect women who don’t have the platform to pontificate about reproductive rights; women who rely on the little health care state and federal dollars do provide; women who earn about as much annually as I paid to have my eggs frozen.
So while getting into this debate makes me slightly uncomfortable, the reality is that proactively managing our fertility, trying to get pregnant, and preventing or terminating pregnancies all stand shivering under the same umbrella that is meant to protect our reproductive rights.
I never thought that in 2015, a woman’s right to not only choose, but her right to access quality reproductive health care through organizations like Planned Parenthood would still be a point of discussion. In a country where half the voting population is women (most of whom I assume don’t want decisions about their health care made by out-of-touch, very conservative, mostly white men), why are we still having this conversation?
Didn’t Roe vs. Wade and Title X sort of settle these issues already? Can we move on to things like, oh, I don’t know, keeping the Earth a viable place to live for future generations, for example? Or putting stronger controls in place so that guns don’t get into the hands of psychos? Just some silly suggestions from a woman who doesn’t need the services of Planned Parenthood and doesn’t want an abortion, but would like to ensure that babies born today have a planet to live on in 20 years and don’t have to worry about being shot at the movies or at school.
The danger in all of this is the fact that the argument to defund Planned Parenthood lies in fabricated and staged stories about selling baby parts for profit. So, despite the fact that I would rather be watching E!, I’ve done a little homework on this subject.
There are two issues at play 1) pro-life vs. pro-choice and 2) defunding Planned Parenthood. And it’s critical to recognize that these are two separate issues because PPH doesn’t exist solely for the purpose of terminating pregnancies.
Let’s first address pro-life vs. pro-choice so we can get that out of the way. Again, I’m always surprised by the fact that we’re still even talking about this, but I’m even more baffled by the weird belief system of those who advocate pro-life (and I know I’m generalizing here, but note my use of ‘tend’).
- They tend to be pro-life AND pro-gun at the same time (and I don’t need to drudge up the ACTUAL human lives lost thanks to our total lack of gun control in this country to make this point, do I?).
- Said differently, they don’t want to have their ‘right to bear arms’ taken away, but are perfectly happy to take away my right to make decisions about my body.
- They also tend to believe in ‘small government,’ yet they are totally ok with the government making decisions about what I can and can’t do with my body.
- They tend to be anti-welfare and anti- government funded social programs, yet the majority of women who go to PPH for abortions live at or below the poverty level, so who is going to take care of the eventual babies when they no longer have access to contraception or abortions?
And to be clear, I’m not pro-abortion – I have a blog dedicated to preserving my fertility, after all. People who are pro-choice aren’t for killing babies. We’re simply, well, pro-CHOICE. Meaning, if you think abortion is murder, by all means, don’t have an abortion, but please leave the rest of us alone. More importantly, don’t threaten to take away the much needed health services provided by PPH.
Which brings me to issue #2: Defunding Planned Parenthood.
The most recent anti-Planned Parenthood propaganda has to do with selling baby parts, which sounds horrific when left unexamined – but examine it I did (despite the fact that there’s a Real Housewives of NYC marathon airing as we speak!). I’m not going to get into the merits of using human tissue for science, but I encourage everyone to dig a little deeper and check out this article.
Spoiler alert: what Planned Parenthood does with tissue is not illegal, nor is it done for profit, nor does it comprise the majority of the services Planned Parenthood provides – and they always get permission from the patient (reminder: the patient is the woman undergoing the procedure, not the fetus).
Human body tissue is vital to the advancement of science, and there are a lot of procedures where the patient is asked whether or not their tissue can be used for research – it’s not just during abortions. And there are for-profit organizations using body parts for much less noble causes than scientific research. The fact is: the use of fetal tissue has been a crucial part of developing vaccines for nearly a century. More recently, congress has explicitly and ironically approved the use of fetal tissue to help develop treatments for diseases like Alzheimer’s (funny how when an old man’s health is at risk, government no longer puts a moral imperative on using fetal tissue).
More relevant, however, are some pesky facts that everyone should know about Planned Parenthood before screaming that tax dollars shouldn’t be used for abortions:
- 96-97% of PPH services are comprised of STD screenings, cancer screenings, providing contraceptives, and other health care related services that have nothing to do with terminating pregnancies.
- Only 3% of PPH services are actually abortions.
- Title X does not allow federal funds to be used for abortions, so federal dollars are used solely for the purposes of services that fall into that 96-97% that I mentioned.
- 79% of people who receive services from PPH live at about 150% of the federal poverty level or lower (that’s about $18,500 per adult) – that means their health care options are extremely limited. They don’t get a fancy GYN at Lenox Hill Hospital or Cedars-Sinai – they get what they’re given and now we’re trying to take that away as well.
All the statistics aside, on a very personal level here is what it boils down to: when I was 16, I was fortunate enough to have access to inexpensive and discreet contraception through Planned Parenthood (yes mother, I was having sex back in high school). I went to Planned Parenthood because at 16, my mom still took me to the family pediatrician – not someone I wanted to talk to about how to avoid getting knocked-up. So now, I’m a successful contributing member of society who falls well above the highest tax bracket range, and I’m not only ok with – I DEMAND that part of my tax dollars be used to take care of women less fortunate (or just younger) than I am. If it were up to the paternalistic psychos I witnessed on the GOP stage last night, I may never have had the option to go to Planned Parenthood for contraceptives and as a result, my life could have looked very different than it does today. That’s why, while I usually don’t get worked up about politics, I lose sleep over the possibility that one of those pro-life, anti-Planned Parenthood, men-without-a-clue candidates want to determine the course of women’s lives by meddling in women’s and reproductive rights. Let’s keep the rusty, old, conservative dicks out of our lady bits.