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Standing with Planned Parenthood.

February 22, 2011

My Dear Readers: I try very hard to be consistent in posting on Tuesdays and Thursday. However, I have a friend in town this week so things have been hectic. More importantly, the subject matter below is very important to me, and I’d like to keep this front and center a lil while longer. Thank you for understanding!

Last week, the House of Representatives decided to eliminate the $327 million in funding for Title X.

Title X is a Nixon-era family planning program, part of which funds Planned Parenthood, to ensure that sexual health and family planning services are provided for the American people, regardless of their income.

Why? Oh, abortion. Duh. Lawd knows Taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to pay for those things.

But. Title X funds cannot be used for abortion services. Instead, it covers noncontroversial family planning services, mostly for low-income families.

Things like basic health care (because, goddamn it, sexual health and women’s health are goddamn basic health). Contraceptives. Testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections. Reproductive health counseling. Women’s annual exams. And, you know, cancer screenings.

From Politico: “Planned Parenthood performed 328,300 abortions in 2008, which would account for about a quarter of the 1.21 million abortions that year, according to statistics from the Guttmacher Institute. And those abortions made up 3 percent of the patient services that Planned Parenthood offered in 2008.”

Yes, well.

Here’s what Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN), introduced the amendment, had to say:


“I am aware that Title X family planning funds are eliminated in this bill, but eliminating Title X funding has never been my goal.”

“I support the important work of Title X clinics across the country that provide breast cancer screenings, HIV testing, counseling, and other valuable family planning services.”

“My focus has and will remain on denying taxpayer dollars to Planned Parenthood or any organization that provides or promotes abortion as a means of birth control.”

Pence is concerned about taxpayer dollars, as he introduced this amendment to bills aimed at cutting government spending. Because, hey, his personal agenda should determine where tax dollars go – and these days we do need to be trimmin’ the fat. Title X is certainly fat, right?

Or not. Because PP invests in preventative and basic health care, they actually save both state and federal dollars. For every public dollar invested in family planning, $3.74 is saved in Medicaid-related costs. Oh, the hypocrisy.

So.

In this day and age, with so many things going wrong, our Representatives chose to focus on taking away reproductive and basic health care. From families that need access to affordable options the most. Especially now. Despite the fact that those dollars have been shown to save money in the long run.

Because some (not all) Planned Parenthoods perform abortions? Or will help or advise a woman to get one?

Yep. As Pence told Politico: “If Planned Parenthood wants to be involved in providing counseling services and HIV testing, they ought not be in the business of providing abortions. As long as they aspire to do that, I’ll be after them.

Um. What about the fact that, through education and all that preventative care, PP is actually preventing abortions? For instance, statistics on reproductive health and abortion predict cutting family planning funds would mean a one-third increase in unplanned pregnancies…. and abortions. Duh.

Yeah… that does not translate to you Mr. Pence, does it?

Here’s the thing.Yes I realize there may be fundamental problems with this bill, and it probably won’t pass the Senate or the President’s veto anyway, so it will probably never come to fruition (thank all that is holy). Yes, fine, I get that. BUT. It’s the IDEA that it can come to this. That one jackass with an agenda can treat me as if I am expendable, or that I don’t deserve reproductive choice and sexual freedom.


Enough with shrugging and saying this doesn’t matter just because it won’t pass the Senate. That I am overreacting. Start fucking paying attention.

All this pisses me right the fuck off on so many levels. First, the idea that Pence and others are so short-sighted they would deny millions of Americans basic health care so we all know how they feel about abortions. Their own thoughts about procedures they will never ever have have to get. Ever. Even though that care actually prevents what they vilify. Even though that care saves them money. They would do that for the principle of it. Because that makes sense.

They’d argue that there are millions more Americans who also don’t like abortions, and there tax dollars shouldn’t be used to fund them.

Excuse me, but there are many many things (thank you for the wars, President Bush!) my government does that I do not approve of. At all (House salaries may be one of them). But. I still pay my taxes. Furthermore, THESE DOLLARS DON’T GO TO ABORTIONS. EXPLICITLY.

There are even deeper reasons why this is such a serious issue.

My annual exam? Basic health care. Contraception and STI testing? Basic health care. Treatment for STIs? Basic health care. Cancer screaning? Basic health care.

And, don’t you worry, the fact that the American government doesn’t actually give a shit about providing the people with basic health care period is not lost on me.


The point is, according to Pence and the supporters of this amendment, these services really aren’t that important. They believe that care is subject to their discretion. And not only discretion? But they have no problem sacrificing it. Not to save money. Not to even avoid actual abortions actually being carried out – but to simply make a point.

And it’s THEIR principles. Not mine. And about something that, let’s be frank, shouldn’t be decided by men. Sure, speaking-for-the-fetus speech here, but anyone wonder if abortions would be an issue if MEN could get pregnant?

And PS? In my opinion? Your ability to decide what I do with my body, and your thoughts on abortion, ended when you decided not to use a condom. Sorry, true story. Further? As someone said on Twitter recently: “If you don’t like abortions, get a vasectomy.”

You will hear, if you’re paying attention, that this is an attack on women and on the poor. I agree. We, the 97% of Americans who don’t go to PP to get an abortion, don’t matter enough to Pence and the supporters of de-funding Planned Parenthood to even consider.

Women’s health and sexual health are separate from, you know, real health care. They’re not really all that important. And health care for the poor? Really? What a drain on the system. We’re trying to solve a recession here, people.

We can be so easily sacrificed. So easily done away with. Because we don’t matter.

Because annual exams aren’t basic health care.


Because we shouldn’t be having sex, in the first place. Not until we’re married, and then we should be having babies anyway.


Because, for women, sex is about getting pregnant.


Because the poor don’t donate to campaign funds.


Because who cares if the poor are uneducated and don’t have access to preventative care and family planning. They’re lazy and stupid as it is. We should really be cutting out as much support for low-income as possible. They just use kids to drain the system anyway. Maybe we should do away with government support and, hey, I don’t believe in evolution, but survival of the fittest.

And furthermore. Whether you want to admit it or not, reproductive freedom and rights are fundamental to where a person stands in the world. As Pepper puts it:

Reproductive freedom is the foundation of my feminism because it is inexorably tied to economic, educational, and environmental outcomes. Every other issue that I think about as a feminist bumping around in the world– class, race, health, food, the environment– every single one, cannot be talked about without connecting it to reproductive freedom.

Furthermore, wealthy women will continue to cover their women’s health needs elsewhere. People will still get abortions. Absolutely. Especially wealthy, white, privileged women. Because, well, these kinds of things – taking care of sexual health, preventative care, etc. – there more like, elective surgery. Elective care. Something you can have if you can afford it.

When are we, as the American public, going to collectively wake up to the fact that there are so many in Congress hell-bent on ignoring the poor, those they should be working hard to take care of and provide opportunities for?

OR the idea that there is still inherent disgusting subconscious deep-down racism in this country? That race and class aren’t still inherently linked? We, the educated and the liberal and the open-minded, can argue against it – but bet your ass, there are plenty still well aware of it. As long as race and social means go hand in hand, it’s just so much easier to keep your racism and make choices based on it, but not have to be blatant about it.

When are we, as the American public, going to collectively wake up to the way we still, to this very day, want to keep women from being independent, sexual beings? To the idea that sexual health and pregnancy prevention rest solely on the woman’s shoulders (hello every woman who has been told “I really don’t like condoms” or “I’m allergic”)? Compare the number of birth control methods that women have, to the ones (I mean one) men do.

The idea that I am here to have babies, that I should have no say, or even access to education, on when or how that happens to me. If I have problem with that, I should just stop having sex. Until I find a man who will marry me, and then I can – but will risk getting preggers every time I do. And all the consequences for my life that come with that. Because that’s just the way a woman’s life should be.

I am not allowed to enjoy or desire sex. I am here to bear your children. Even if you rape me. Even if you abuse me. Even if having that baby might kill me.

And yes, even if the condom breaks or if the diaphragm slips or I forget a pill. Even if mistakes are made – BECAUSE THEY ARE. It’s on me. Not you. And even more so if I am marginalized. And yeah I get that there are men out there who feel it is on them, too. While I appreciate them so much – it’s not the same. Let’s be honest.

And, like with racism, it’s so easy to hold on to misogyny when you can just call it Pro-Life.

This is not an attack on men. This is not an attack on the privileged. In no way do I mean to insinuate all men feel this way, or all people with money do.

This is anger at those that would attack women, and would attack the poor, demean us and tell us we don’t matter, and are expendable so that you can make a mother fucking point.

And wrap it all up with a bow that says “Pro-Life”.

This is also frustration at those who want to tell me this is a simple issue. Geez, stop overreacting. This is just about abortion, stop reading too much into it. And it won’t pass the Senate anyway, so why are my panties all twisted?

START PAYING ATTTENION. No, this is not an issue I can ignore because the Senate will take care of it for me. This is an issue I need my government to know is serious serious shit. That I AM paying attention. I SEE the underlying issues, and I UNDERSTAND how Pence and his supporters would USE ME to make a point.

Regardless of it’s actual impact on Title X in the end, we need to stand up to say that this act, this amendment and its support – for women, for those of us who don’t have the income for a private gyno. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE.

Of course, it’s also part of the greater war on reproductive rights and sexual freedom, even if the right finally did get the message on “forcible” rape. If you’re unaware of this, please read up on HR 358, HR 3 (and Sady Doyle at Tiger Beatdown is running down the list of Dems supporting it), and this lovely list (if that doesn’t make your blood boil, not sure what will… and we might not be able to be friends any more – and I don’t want that.

TAKE ACTION:


While filling out form letters does something, I know for a fact it has less equal impact to the time it takes you to fill it out. Want to really let your voice be heard? Find you Congressmen and call them. It’s not scary – you usually just leave a message. But an actual voice on the line tells them you are serious about this.

Find your Senator.

Find your Representative: express your displeasure in their vote, or thank them for standing with PP.


But… I know we’re all busy so at least do this:

Stand With Planned Parenthood.

PPNE Action Fund

EDUCATE YOURSELF ~ For more on Title X and the greater dialogue, including women’s rights, what this all means, and ties to race and class:

PP Action Center: Title X

Feministe

Pepper & Parika

Jezebel – and this one too.

Simone Grant

Jess Downey

Miss Taylor Cast

The American Independent

Politico

Politics Daily

The XX on Slate

The Beautiful Struggler Pt I and II

25 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2011 8:45 am

    I will never ever understand why reproductive freedom is not a given right everywhere. I come from a country where it is a given right and live in a country were it isn’t a given right and let me tell you, it constantly pisses me off. It stinks.

    No man (or women) has the right to tell me what decision I should take in regards to my own body or deny me basic care. Yes, I can take advise, I can listen to discussions and I can debate but in the end I take the decision.

    No, I do not think it is right when some women use abortions as some kind of preganancy prevention on a regular basis. Mainly because it is medically unsound and can put dangerous stress on the body and let’s be honest here…. you cannot abort STD’s! It is however a minority that would resort to such stupid measures. Most women do not.

    To have a politician trying to decide what type of basic care women (and poor folks) can or cannot get access to, just to get a “moral” point accross, is plain misconduct of political power (in my opinon).

    Now, in lovely Ireland, the move towards reprodictive freedom is slow but we will get there. Let’s hope the move does not go backwards anywhere else.

    • February 22, 2011 9:49 am

      It is beyond infuriating. And it is SO EASY to pretend this is a simple matter, and that Pence is just trying to tighten up the purse strings by going against something he doesn’t believe. It’s so much deeper than that – AND IT IS SO WRONG. It IS about race, and gender, and class. Whether we want to admit it or not.

      Further, I have a real hard time believe women really use abortion as birth control. Yes, I am sure some women AND MEN think about unprotected sex flippantly – and they don’t think twice about getting an abortion. But these women are few and far between. I think pro-lifers like to pretend it happens far more than it does. As CA Rep Jack Speier said on the House floor in debates over this, “But for you to stand on this floor and to suggest, as you have, that somehow this is a procedure that is either welcomed or done cavalierly or done without any thought is preposterous.”

      We are most definitely moving backwards over on this side of the pond. It’s unbelievable.

      • February 22, 2011 11:14 am

        Let’s face it, if the “Conservatives” had it their way, we’d all be forced to wear berkas and not allowed to have jobs and do nothing but be baby machines. And while this may not get past The Senate or a Presidential veto it is something that has come across the table now and will remain in limbo land until the “Right” comes into controlling power again which will be sooner rather than later.

        I was arguing with a male pro-lifer about this and his response was that when it comes to abortion it’s not my body, it’s two bodies thus I have no say because it’s another “life”. Which is total bullshit! It is my body and I can do it with it what I want and if for some reason my birth control fails then it’s nice to know I won’t have to ruin my life by having a kid, I still have other options.

        In general I’m sick of religious values being a staple in government decisions, they try to hide behind that it’s a moral thing but really it’s religious. And I’m sorry until we would have the technology to keep a fetus alive outside of the human body during the legal time period an abortion is allowed to be performed (1-14 weeks old) then it’s not “murder”. It can’t live outside the body and has not even developed all organ or brain functions, it’s not a human being to me. And it frustrates me that some people’s religious ideology could be keeping me from BASIC health care. It’s just disgusting!

      • February 22, 2011 11:40 pm

        I agree, it is a class, race and sexist issue. And this roll back of our rights and civil liberties has me sick up to my effing eyebrows.

        I am sorely disappointed in the events as of late in this country. Seems that we are retreating back to colonialism. Pretty soon, we’ll have another civil war on our hands to free ourselves from becoming slaves.

      • February 23, 2011 8:30 am

        It is SO interesting (and by “interesting” I mean infuriating) that people can use how extremists in the Middle East treat women as a reason to go to “war” with them. And yet. At least those men, however horrible their behavior, are fucking honest about what they want and blatant in their views.

        It’s also amazing how people decide that they actually prefer the fetus, regardless of it’s stage in development, over the woman. Who cares about YOU, let’s focus on some CELLS in your womb, there. THOSE are what are important. It’s never an balanced discussion. Because there is inherent repulsion at YOU the WOMAN WHO HAD SEX. AND NOT TO GET PREGNANT. The undertones are absolutely appalling.

        Further, the hypocrisy! Planned Parenthood, and anyone else interested in education, outreach, and preventative care, do more to prevent unwanted pregnancies and abortion, AND create families that are supported and prepared for children, than ANY abstinence only or “Pro-Life” movement. One of the slogans is “A world of wanted children would make a world of difference.” I don’t know how much more PRO LIFE you can get than that.

        Things happening in the US right now, especially in the House, are becoming increasingly alarming. I am very, very worried.

  2. February 22, 2011 9:28 pm

    I just don’t get the way your health care system works down there. It seems that for a country so based on apparent freedoms that the US of A has one of the worst setups in the world.

    Like Ivy says many so called backwards socialist countries have across the board coverage for citizens while your government squabbles over such basic concepts as women’s health.

    • February 22, 2011 11:44 pm

      I don’t get it either Bob, and I have to live here too. But I can tell you it is an plutocratic machine at work here systematically dismantling our rights as American citizens- from our health care, to our retirements and our 1st amendment rights.

      People have slept comfortably long enough in this country. They are starting to wake up.

    • February 23, 2011 8:34 am

      The idea that the US cannot, no – WILL not provide basic health care for it’s citizens is beyond me. What’s worse, we have a media machine here spewing bullshit that people actually LISTEN to, and therefore don’t end up even WANTING health care for themselves! It’s THE MOST ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen.

      Ok, maybe not THE MOST but…

      In general, what Feisty said. Things are being pulled apart down here, our history is being re-written for us, and somehow, the people who think they’re “pro-constitution” are forgetting one of the foundations of this country: the separation of church and state. The uneducated are being dumbed down every day, and we are turning away from our own basic freedoms for ideologies that actually re-instate bias, prejudice, and single-mindedness.

    • February 23, 2011 11:54 am

      I don’t get it either. I am definitely not education in health care in the US, but as I read this post, I’m thinking to myself, REALLY? Is this the way this country operates? What about the people? What about the effing people????

      Madness.

  3. February 22, 2011 10:30 pm

    Yep. Pretty much. This shit does fuck all for the economy, or to reduce the deficit (here’s a hint boys, maybe examine the 700 billion a year we spend on unjust wars!) and is all about whipping up the base for 2012 when this shit may well become law. I am quite annoyed by the apathy in response to this garbage– this shouldn’t be acceptable as a national gesture. It’s as if they made a bunch of gesture bills stripping non-whites of their right to vote, own property, and so on. Misogyny is no more acceptable than racism, people.

    • February 23, 2011 8:36 am

      “the apathy in response to this garbage – this shouldn’t be acceptable as a national gesture.” <— Exactly.

      I have no words. OK, I have a lot of words, I just used most of them already.

  4. February 24, 2011 1:25 am

    I hate the apathy that has atrophied the minds of our citizens. Why does NO ONE question the true motives of our elected officials anymore? ZOMG, Barrack Obama might be a Jew or something because Glenn Beck said there was something strange about Google’s dealing with the White House while Bill O’Reilly was there asking the “Socialist Democratic Party” why they want to steal taxpayers’ dollars to fund pro-evolution LIES?!??!?!?!?!?!

    Seriously, everyone grow the fuck up and stop dancing around calling names and skirting around the real issues to sensationalize the SHIT for ratings!

    • February 24, 2011 9:23 am

      It is all about ratings, and stirring up the “base” – whatever that means – and causing drama and controversy. Fox News (*ahem* Glenn Beck) and others are literally re-writing US history for people who are using their cable news networks as their only form of education. They’re stirring up hate and far-right-wing-religious ideology to get things the way they want them – the way their very very wealthy sponsors want them.

      It’s all fear mongering and hate mongering and hypocrisy.

      Honestly, the only bit of sanity I can find sometimes is watching it all aired out on Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report.

  5. Movedup permalink
    February 24, 2011 3:32 pm

    With you all the way Nikki. I am alive today because of Planned Parenthood. As a young woman they were support for me. Education for me. They were my primary doctors. Coming from a family with sex was not discussed they were the only avenue available to me at that time. My boys know all about Planned Parenthood as a resource and I have an open door policy with them. My oldest came to me for advice when he was considering sex with his long time gf and we have a really good talk about it. My now Xhusband freaked out when he found a condom wrapper! I cheered!!!!!! Now you see why he is a X!

    Agree – education is the ounce of prevention to the pound of cure. My insurance won’t pay for birth control at a measy $70 every three months BUT they will pay for me to have a baby. WTF What do you think costs more!!!! Seriously I think the bean counters are off their rockers.

    KEEP YOUR LAWS OFF MY BODY!!!!!!!!!

    • February 26, 2011 2:48 pm

      What a wonderful mom you are! I think it’s fab you’ve been so open with your boys. My mom was too (with the anatomy book: “This is the clitoris. It makes sex feel good!”) – so I was always informed, could make my own decisions, knew where to get help/protection, and is a big reason why I am a responsible adult today.

      I have no idea why it’s so difficult to understand/appreciate the importance of prevention and education. Whether people want to admit it or not, we are sexual beings. Better to be informed and responsible, and able to make your own decisions (on how, when and IF to have sex) than to just pretend we won’t have it at all!

      AMEN!! :D I have that bumper sticker up in my office!

  6. February 28, 2011 2:17 pm

    Very well said, girl. I’ve nothing to add, because you’ve said it all. Thank you.

    Actually, I do have something to say. Because, well, ya know. I’m me.

    “Furthermore, wealthy women will continue to cover their women’s health needs elsewhere. People will still get abortions. Absolutely. Especially wealthy, white, privileged women. Because, well, these kinds of things – taking care of sexual health, preventative care, etc. – there more like, elective surgery. Elective care. Something you can have if you can afford it.”

    This is an excellent point. So there will be more poor babies born to poor mamas who, in many cases, will not have a father around. Good idea – let’s create MORE poverty… and then deny medical care to the impoverished.

    And what drives me especially crazy about these people is that they think if we can’t get abortions that means folks will be more likely to abstain from sex or use condoms. Please. People have innate – yes, innate – sexual urges. People are going to have sex. Oftentimes without condoms, because men don’t like them. Some women don’t like them either. I am not saying that’s okay. People who want to avoid pregnancy (and other issues) SHOULD use condoms. But they’re not always going to, and we need to wake up and realize it – and deal with it because that’s the way it is. Blocking means of abortion will only result in more unwanted pregnancies – not more abstinence.

    • March 1, 2011 10:18 am

      The prejudice against the poor or lower-income families is part of the point. AND it’s SO un-family supportive, I can’t even get started. Let’s judge all lower income families, but then bar them from any resources to plan their own families. UGH.

      To your second point: Not only will people fail to use condoms sometimes (yes – men and women don’t like them, and can be manipulative to avoid them) BUT, in addition, MISTAKES HAPPEN. What, we should stop having sex simply because the condom MIGHT break? It will happen sometimes. Sometimes you will forget a pill. Abortions, morning after pills – all these things are necessary to keep sex a safe act and allow women and men to PLAN THEIR FAMILIES AND THEIR LIVES.

      “Blocking means of abortion will only result in more unwanted pregnancies – not more abstinence.” <— Exactly.

  7. Movedup permalink
    February 28, 2011 2:25 pm

    I may be dating myself here but actually I do have to add because I remember a time when abortion was illegal. So many women died at the hands of butchers who proclaimed to provide “private” abortions in horrible conditions. Too many women have paid the price. ROWE V. WADE – let it stand!

    • March 1, 2011 10:11 am

      My mom was one of the women who had an illegal abortion. When they came to get her, they made her stand against a wall and threw a bag over her head. No joke. Luckily for her, the person who performed the abortion was an actual doctor who knew what they was doing.

      If not, there’s a pretty damn good chance I wouldn’t be here. That the “abortion” could have effed things up enough, when she was ready to have kids (e.g. ME), she couldn’t.

  8. February 28, 2011 11:00 pm

    One of my all-time favorite rallying cries continues to be, “Keep your laws off my body.”

    • March 1, 2011 10:14 am

      I have that bumper sticker hanging in my office.

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