An open letter to the people attempting to defund Planned Parenthood,
The first time I heard about birth control, it was through the voice of Rush Limbaugh. In 2012, Georgetown University student, Sandra Fluke confronted her university's policy on contraception at an unofficial hearing lead by v. Fluke said that she spent upwards of $1,000 on birth control yearly, as did her fellow female Georgetown University classmates. To advocate for contraceptive coverage under the school's health plan, Fluke and others had spoken out against the university's religious policies to obtain health care for all students. Rush Limbaugh took to his radio show nearly a week later to voice his opinion on the controversy. Limbaugh said, "What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute."
Welcome to the world of women's health care, Anna.
I was 16 years old. Some may be surprised that I hadn't heard of birth control prior to that infamous radio show, but we exist in a society where women's healthcare is pushed aside, and the idea of women having sex is often seen as taboo.
I'm 19 now, and just watched the video of Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards speaking and rudely being interrupted for five hours by House Republicans. The award for "most disruptive" goes to Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) -- who even accuses Richards of saying something she never said. Seriously, check out the video.
Those most vehemently opposed to Planned Parenthood are so called "Pro-Lifers." However, NPR reports that in 2013-14 only three percent of Planned Parenthood's services were abortions. In 2013, Planned Parenthood provided 400,000 pap tests, 500,000 breast exams and 4.5 million STI tests and treatments. Everyone is welcome -- insured, uninsured, women and men alike. Upwards of seven million people use Planned Parenthood's services, not all of whom are women. Thanks to Planned Parenthood, teen pregnancies rates are the lowest they've been in 20 years. And it doesn't stop in the United States -- Planned Parenthood provides health care to one million people in places like Africa and South America. Check out the statistics here, if you don't believe me.
But despite these statistics, much of the Planned Parenthood uproar focuses on abortion. Personally, I don't believe that "pro-life" is actually "pro-life." I think it's "anti-choice." I say if you don't like abortions, don't get one.
Recently, over text, a friend asked me my thoughts on abortion. I said that I was pro-choice, and this was the response that I got.
Let's ignore the bad grammar in that text message, and just get right down to it. Supporting a woman's right to choose does not make me a murderer, it does not make me a baby-killer, nor does it mean that I support the illegal sale of fetal tissues for profit (which Planned Parenthood does not do. See here). My being pro-choice simply means that I believe a woman's body is her own, therefore, the decision is her own. If there's one thing I've learned from watching that horrendous "interrupting" video, it's that people really will never stop trying to police women's bodies. The whole thing reminds me of a scene from Tina Fey's hit NBC sit-com, 30 Rock.
No, you won't get shocked, you'll probably just be asked questions and then interrupted while trying to provide answers for about five hours on national television.
But in all honesty, as a young woman in this country, all of this is concerning to me. When will we, as a country, accept that a woman's body is her own? When will we stop policing women's bodies, and start accepting that she is capable of making the decisions for herself?
I want to live in a place where women's healthcare is respected, where women are not shamed for having sex, and trying to have safe sex. I want to live in a place where birth control is not associated with prostitution and "whoredom."
I want to choose. That is why I stand with Planned Parenthood.