“Planned Parenthood saved my life,” the woman said through tears, to Republican Rep. Marsha Blackburn, whose town hall meeting was filled with constituents opposed to Blackburn’s support of phasing out the ACA, among other contentious topics, like her support for education secretary Betsy DeVos.
The young woman continued:
I was a college student, I was a sophomore, I was uninsured, my parents were undocumented, I worked tirelessly to pay for my college tuition and I couldn’t go anywhere else.
Community health centers kept turning me away, the health department kept turning me away...I needed my first pap smear at the age of 21. And I went in, and Planned Parenthood was compassionate, they were nonjudgmental, and they were there for me.
I had no money in my pocket and they told me I could have a pap smear for free. A week later...it came back abnormal. I had to get a colposcopy right away.
Rep. Blackburn has historically supported a staunchly anti-abortion policy agenda. In her tenure as a Congresswoman in Fairview, she has contributed to the demonization of abortion providers by leading the House Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, which, after the release of the Center for Medical Progress’s heavily-edited videos meant to target Planned Parenthood, needlessly investigated more than 30 organizations for potential misuse of fetal tissue from abortions only to find no evidence of wrongdoing. She has also worked tirelessly to ban abortion procedures after 20 weeks of pregnancy.
The young woman at Blackburn’s town hall, who became a community organizer for Planned Parenthood after her first visit to the health care center, said that she understands that many legislators want to defund abortion clinics ― but also reminded Rep. Blackburn that only three percent of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortion procedures.
“What do you have to say to the 2.5 million people who go to Planned Parenthood every year?” she asked, after pointing out that millions utilize Planned Parenthood’s services for STI tests, cancer screenings, vaccines, and more.
Rep. Blackburn thanked the woman for sharing her story, but defended her opinion. “I stand firmly by my belief that taxpayer funds ought not to be used for abortions,” she said.
But, as members of the town hall crowd were quick to point out, that argument is moot: Because of the Hyde Amendment, no federal funding goes to abortion procedures unless they are done to save the mother’s life.