In 2010, the midterm elections sent a deluge of freshman politicians deemed part of the “tea party,” who immediately targeted Planned Parenthood funding under the pretense that somehow the health care organization was the main contributing factor to the United States debt. Yes, the tax debate happened and more pretend-issues were hotly debated on cable news shows. But really, nothing has dominated the headlines more than those that would restrict women’s right to have an abortion. The main target of course the most visible health organization: Planned Parenthood.
To those that do not want women to have access to reproductive health care, Planned Parenthood is the easiest group to attack and (in their wildest dreams) totally destroy. The sad part about all of this is many pro-choice activists and Planned Parenthood itself are helping the anti-choicers do just that.
I know many activists are frustrated with Planned Parenthood’s sometimes tone-deaf approach to reproductive concerns today. Some argue the organization has trouble adapting to contemporary activism. That Planned Parenthood has been slow to accept the new wave of young pro-choice activists that are likely to use contemporary avenues (like social media) to stand firm against the anti-choice bills, laws and rhetoric sweeping the nation. Others argue that Planned Parenthood has too many awful bureaucratic problems making the organization less able to quickly refute false attacks and launch necessary counter-protests and truth-telling campaigns. Some activists feel Planned Parenthood has capitulated one too many times to the increasingly right wing Federal government’s demands.
With that in mind, consider this story in which Gloria Steinem’s recent speech in support of Planned Parenthood garnered a fiery response from anti-choice protestors and even some pro-choice supporters as well. With women in the audience over 80 years old stating they are counting on the new generation of women to keep the fight for women’s rights just as they did 50 years ago, is it conducive to the pro-choice cause as a whole to criticize Gloria Steinem for supporting Planned Parenthood? I think you know the answer.
And on the other hand, Seattle Weekly reports that Planned Parenthood Seattle spokeswoman, Kristen Glundberg-Prossor, wants a group of clinic defense protestors (that picket and protest in front of anti-choice protestors at clinics) to stop, because she says, it’s “confusing.” While Planned Parenthood certainly has a point in wanting the distraction of protestors to simmer down so patients feel safe entering and exiting the clinics, is asking pro-choice activists to stop protesting doing the overall cause any good? Again, I think you know the answer.
While I was in high school, Planned Parenthood provided me with birth control, condoms, and sex information I would not have had access to otherwise. I received services for free and took just a short bus ride to the nearest clinic. That was almost 8 years ago, for many women today, the nearest reproductive health clinic and/or Planned Parenthood is hours away, the fees no longer affordable for people that earn little to no income. When I suspected I was pregnant, Planned Parenthood administered my pregnancy test, confirmed my pregnancy, and offered me counseling and brochures on every option (parenting, adoption, or abortion) available to me. The nurse gave me her card and said, “call me any time you need me.” Afterward, she gave me a big hug. In many places in this country, in this political and social climate, how many women can tell that same story? Not as many as 8 years ago, that’s for certain.
I accept readily that Planned Parenthood is not perfect, but still, the health organization offers services to so many people that desperately need them. Without Planned Parenthood, I know this country would be much worse off, and not just for women. Because when women suffer, we all suffer. When one person’s rights are stripped away, we all lose something. And if we all sit around and become angry at organizations that we should be working in solidarity with, the in-fighting just makes the anti-choice groups and politicians feel that what they are doing is working.