Sex Week Reboot: The Planned Parenthood Problem

Originally published Feb. 25, 2011.

[Editor's Note: As the country's debate on abortion gets more and more intense, I thought it was appropriate to bring back this winner from last year's Sex Week.]

My ovaries have been very busy making protest signs this week. They’ve enlisted the help of my heart and my mind as conservative members of Congress have begun a very deliberate war on women’s rights. My vagina won’t let me hear the end of it, constantly running clips from The Daily Show and Democracy Now! on the subject.

The gauntlet was really thrown down this week when the House voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Yep. The GOP wants to strip away access to free contraceptives and preventative womens’ health care (cancer screenings, HIV tests, you know, trivial stuff.)

It seems counter-intuitive to me. It seems to me when you take away access to family planning, especially for young and/or low-income women, you’re going to have a significant rise in unplanned pregnancies, and with no alternatives, an increase in abortion rates.

Women are still going to choose to not have a baby (whether it be for financial disparity, abuse, rape, or her own life at stake), but if the means to do so are illegal, it will be a reversion to dark alleys and unclean (and unsafe) practices. Cuts to Planned Parenthood won’t decrease the need for abortions, but will take away safe clinics that perform them.

But here’s the kicker: Only ten percent of all visits to Planned Parenthood were for abortion services last year. So, this defunding of Planned Parenthood is not about abortion. It’s about power and inflicting a vendetta against contraception as a whole – because it’s related to that whole naughty sex act. The GOP must really hate women.

A woman who cannot afford birth control should not have to give up her right to have sex. Even with a condom (unaffordable without services like Planned Parenthood), there’s still a risk of pregnancy. (Planned Parenthood’s educational services about contraception may also go away, which would be detrimental to girls being taught solely “Abstinence Only” at school)

Straight up, cutting Title X funding (the family planning fund), which provides $317 million to family planning services that includes Planned Parenthood, would be a huge oppression on millions of women.

There are some heroes for the cause: Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin laid it all out, according to Jezebel, by “mocking the prospect of a bunch of old white guys standing around talking about black women’s fertility and alleged genocide.” Rep. Paul Brown accused clinics of targeting neighborhoods “where people of color live” and that “more black babies are killed” by Planned Parenthood.

Moore said, essentially, what the fuck do you know?! “I know all about black babies. I’ve had three of them…the first one at the ripe old age of 18.” Conservative policies show “utter contempt for poor women and poor children.”

The anti-abortion LifeNews chastised Moore for “implying that it is better to have an abortion than make a child be forced to live ‘eating Ramen noodles’ and ‘mayonnaise sandwiches.’” But that’s what happens when you take away all funding.

California’s Rep. Jackie Speier discussed her own abortion, when she had complications during pregnancy. Another big fuck you to the GOP: “For you to stand on this floor and to suggest…that somehow this is a procedure that is either welcomed or done cavalierly or done without any thought is preposterous.” Oh, and Republicans are “wasting the time of Americans, who are primarily concerned with jobs and not with what is, last time we all checked, a legal procedure.”

The ever-insane Michele Bachmann claims, falsely, that Planned Parenthood uses government money to “build fancy abortion centers”.

Also in trouble are rape victims, as well as women who planned their pregnancy, but experienced complications during childbirth. It’s not a good time to be an abortion doctor either. Here’s what the Right would like to pass (Note: These are not law, yet): Rape cannot be called rape if there is no proof of force. A victim of sexual assault cannot be called a victim, but an accuser, in legal language. If you’re giving birth and your life is in danger, you would have to die rather than have an abortion. If you perform an abortion, your death would be a justifiable homicide.

The thing is, Pro-Choice does not mean Pro-Abortion. It just means supporting the freedom to decide what is best for your own body. Why try to ban what you don’t approve of? What one person does with their body doesn’t affect another. Don’t have an abortion if you don’t want to. But, don’t take away that right for others. That’s not democracy.

PLEASE stand with Planned Parenthood.

Watch these inspiring videos from Rep. Moore and Rep. Speier. (Another note: These speeches were made BEFORE the House vote. No compassion up in there.)

Photo by Steve Rhodes

Jessi Stafford Graduate of Mizzou. Starving freelance writer and hipster-watcher who just moved to the Dirty South. I will work for coffee, booze or tofu scramble. I write the weekly column The Feed Bag for TNGG. Twitter: @jessistafford

View all posts by Jessi Stafford

19 Responses to “Sex Week Reboot: The Planned Parenthood Problem”

  1. Anna

    “What one person does with their body doesn’t affect another.”

    sorry– but if you choose to have an abortion, what you have done with YOUR body has most certainly affected the life and body of the life growing inside of you. abortion is not personal. it is an act of violence against a fetus.

    Reply
    • Mary

      Anna: Abortion is never a choice taken lightly. Plenty of women have gone through with an abortion and regretted it, but that doesn’t mean the choice shouldn’t be viable. Some women are not able to support a child, and cannot afford the proper pre- and post-natal care to ensure a healthy pregnancy and birth. The dangerous parts of these bills are the inherent restrictions on a woman’s choices, her ability to protect her body (when a pregnancy endangers her health & life, when she is sexually assaulted, etc).

      Abortion can be seen as an act of violence, but how aware is the fetus of that violence? Very little. Up until the fetal stage, it doesn’t look much different from a rabbit fetus. Cognitive development hasn’t begun, and isn’t even complete, technically, until well after birth. I am not in any way suggesting babies are disposable, but rather pointing out that supporting the denial of abortion as an option on the grounds of a fetus being a person is dubious. As to the definition of a “person” that is more of a philosophical question than a scientific one, isn’t it? Access to basic health services shouldn’t be governed by a philosophical (and religious?) question.

      These bills also present a clear ignorance of women’s bodies, the process of fetal development, and pregnancy itself. Planned Parenthood centers combat that kind of ignorance directly, and often in places where it is needed most (poor districts, isolated communities). This blog post points out the most important and critical aspect of this debate: “It seems to me when you take away access to family planning, especially for young and/or low-income women, you’re going to have a significant rise in unplanned pregnancies, and with no alternatives, an increase in abortion rates.”

      The GOP, by getting rid of Planned Parenthood as a mask for outlawing abortion, are in fact, shooting themselves in the proverbial foot, and endangering the lives of countless women (and children!) at the same time.

      Reply
    • Jessi Stafford

      That is a matter of whether you believe a fetus is a life – and it’s pretty commonly agreed that late-term abortions are illegal/irresponsible. That’s not what most pro-choice people are advocating for.

      Reply
  2. Sarah B.

    “Don’t have an abortion if you don’t want to. But, don’t take away that right for others. That’s not democracy.”

    Well said! The fact that Republicans regularly spout off about “less government” in our lives but add MORE for everyone that isn’t a rich, white man totally baffles me. If you don’t want to be in a gay marriage, don’t. If you don’t want to have an abortion, don’t. What’s so hard about that? (Oh, their “religious” views… good thing we have separation of church & state!)

    Oh, and ANNA — Good thing it’s a fetus, not a fully functioning person, in there…. so the point still stands. Abortion IS a personal matter. It doesn’t get more personal than what’s happening inside of your own body!

    Reply
    • Jessi Stafford

      It’s totally not the prerogative of rich, white Christian males to decide what a woman’s right it. They’ll NEVER have to go through anything close to making a decision like keeping or giving up a baby. And will never experience what effects pregnancy has on a person, especially carrying a child that was the result of domestic abuse or rape. Baffles me. Same can be said for marriage equality. It fundamentally does not affect anyone else but the two partners in question whether they get a marriage license or not. It’s just about perpetuating a religious agenda on the rest of the country.

      Reply
  3. Mary

    Anna: Abortion is never a choice taken lightly. Plenty of women have gone through with an abortion and regretted it, but that doesn’t mean the choice shouldn’t be viable. Some women are not able to support a child, and cannot afford the proper pre- and post-natal care to ensure a healthy pregnancy and birth. The dangerous parts of these bills are the inherent restrictions on a woman’s choices, her ability to protect her body (when a pregnancy endangers her health & life, when she is sexually assaulted, etc).

    Abortion can be seen as an act of violence, but how aware is the fetus of that violence? Very little. Up until the fetal stage, it doesn’t look much different from a rabbit fetus. Cognitive development hasn’t begun, and isn’t even complete, technically, until well after birth. I am not in any way suggesting babies are disposable, but rather pointing out that supporting the denial of abortion as an option on the grounds of a fetus being a person is dubious. As to the definition of a “person” that is more of a philosophical question than a scientific one, isn’t it? Access to basic health services shouldn’t be governed by a philosophical (and religious?) question.

    These bills also present a clear ignorance of women’s bodies, the process of fetal development, and pregnancy itself. Planned Parenthood centers combat that kind of ignorance directly, and often in places where it is needed most (poor districts, isolated communities). This blog post points out the most important and critical aspect of this debate: “It seems to me when you take away access to family planning, especially for young and/or low-income women, you’re going to have a significant rise in unplanned pregnancies, and with no alternatives, an increase in abortion rates.”

    The GOP, by getting rid of Planned Parenthood as a mask for outlawing abortion, are in fact, shooting themselves in the proverbial foot, and endangering the lives of countless women (and children!) at the same time.

    Reply
  4. Amy

    And if you take away government funding for pre-natal health care for low-income women
    (i.e. Planned Parenthood), then you’re most certainly harming a fetus – and the consequences of that can end up the same as an abortion.

    Additionally, whether you agree with the law or not, the fact remains that abortion is NOT
    an illegal act. Taking away funding for Planned Parenthood does not equal repealing the Roe
    v. Wade decision.

    Reply
  5. Taya

    sometimes its worse to bring a child into the world when you’re not prepared or able to support them. while ive never needed to, i feel better knowing that there is a choice offered to me. its all about the power to choose

    Reply
  6. Lschuma!

    I go to PP every year like clockwork for an annual exam. STI testing, pap smear, breast exam…they do the works. Their doctors and nurses are extremely kind people, and always ready to answer every question I can come up with about my body. (The answer to almost everything is “Oh yes, that’s totally normal.”)

    When I was finally ready to have a sexual partner, I sent him to PP to be tested first as well.

    I hate the confusion of the terms “Planned Parenthood” and “abortion.” Planned Parenthood offers dozens and dozens of desperately-needed services to men, women, and families.

    Reply
  7. Karen

    If it’s your choice and your body, then why do you expect us (the taxpayers) to fork over the money for it?

    Reply
    • Jessi Stafford

      Taxpayer dollars don’t currently go towards funding abortions, at least not at Planned Parenthood. And everyone deserves access to contraception and cancer/HIV/STD screenings. It cuts down on health care costs in the long run.

      Reply
  8. Cristina

    A lot of knowledge is gained from having these clinics around. In high school, our neighborhood clinic would drop by and help educate the kids about sex, the risks of sex, and all out options that we have when it comes to being safe and having sex. Not only that, the clinic is a safe zone for girls to be able to open up and ask questions without feeling judged. When they have no one to turn to, this was the best option. While people may have their beliefs, you must realize that the world we live in is anything bit black and white. Everyones situation is different. Not everyone is so privileged and to be able to have support and options is too important to be taken away.

    Reply
  9. True-Catholic

    Facts for you
    ~Human life starts at conception.
    ~Abortion is murder.
    ~Planned Parenthood Cares about Cash.
    ~Planned Parenthood Does not care about you, unless your a minority, then they want to kill your child.
    ~Planned Parenthood LIES about when life starts.
    ~Planned Parenthood Supports Moral relativism.
    ~Moral relativism is allowing EVIL!

    Reply
  10. Cameron

    The danger of religion. It causes people to care more about dogma than about their fellow human beings. Rabid pro-lifers do not support life. If they did, they wouldn’t be so dogmatic about abortions because there are many many many instances in which it is much worse to bring a child into the world than to prevent that life from forming. Every time I see a child with ribs protruding because he goes more days without food than with food, or he is being abused by a mother whose rape brought about his conception or he is living in the streets, I feel sick to my stomach. But these rabid religious fundamentalists are telling us that even when a woman expects this to be another human being’s fate, she should bring that life into the world instead of humanely stopping that life from forming at a point when that life has not been formed and cannot feel or dream or think. If that’s not inhumane, I don’t know what is. Religious dogma is the ONLY justification these extremists have for their position. They claim to love life, but if you really think about it, it is not life that they love. For you to choose a non feeling mass of cells over a living breathing woman (with dreams and loved ones) who needs to end a pregnancy to survive is wicked. If you take religion out of the picture, most human beings would instantly see how unjust this is. But when you introduce religion, people turn into monsters and they care more about dogma than their living breathing neighbour. Religion is ugly.

    Reply

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