Friday, February 3, 2012

Planned Parenthood

"No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother."  Margaret Sanger, mother of Planned Parenthood.

I admit, I've never been a fan of the Pink (Komen) Foundation.  When many of their chief sponsors - Coke, 3M, Revlon - refuse to address the usage of BPA (carcinogenic chemicals) in their products, I find it hard to trust the message that the Pink campaign's intent is to save lives.  In addition, the Komen website does not detail how their funds are spent - how much on research, what kinds of research, etc.  Have they built awareness of breast cancer?  You bet.  Have they worked arduously towards a cure?  Not so much.  (Check out this essay:

Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, as a federally funded organization, is required to be transparent in its policies and in its finances.  Planned Parenthood fills in the gap of medical access for many women without insurance, with little access to medical care, and contrary to the assertions of a Congressman (John Kyl - Arizona) "who did not intend for his claims to be factual" -  only 3% of PP funding goes towards abortions.  (For more details on this, please reference this excellent historical essay -  The Politics of PP:

Maybe I'm biased.  When I was in my early 20s and living in Florida, I had cervical cancer.  When my regular gyn messed up several tests during the confirmation process (painful and expensive and just plain wrong - one test said I was pregnant!) I went to the Planned Parenthood clinic in Sarasota for help.  The women there were unbelievably kind, from the receptionist at the door to the technicians to the nurse that performed the procedure to remove the cancerous cells.  As I cried throughout the process, the PA held my hand and explained what was happening. A scary experience became much more tolerable through the kindness of Planned Parenthood.

Looking back now, I think this was probably my first experience with a women-centered space.  Where my concerns about my health were validated, not dismissed.  Where I felt safe enough to cry amongst strangers because they weren't strangers, they were women like me.  Where being a woman was respected and honored, not a cause for dismissal.  Or disapproval.  Or fear.  Or minimization.  The staff at Planned Parenthood discussed my options for treatment with me from the position of a health provider, not from the position of a health decider.  I had the freedom to make any decision that worked for me, that was in my best interest.

For me, the attacks on Planned Parenthood are personal because they affect my ability, as a woman, to make choices about my body.  My body.  My body that has always been more than the host for carrying a child.  I'm so much more than my womb.  All women are worth more than their ability or willingness to reproduce.  I reject being diminished in that way. To use abortion as a means of taking away the inherent right I have to decide what to do with my body is inexcusable.  No man would ever be asked to make that choice.  No man would ever have his rights confused with those of an embryo, one that cannot exist without the woman's body.  

My body is not up for debate. 

If we're going to debate women's autonomy in regards to their bodies, let's also debate men's.  I am willing to bet our conversations will change.  It's time to stop hiding behind the smokescreen of abortion and have a real conversation about who is entitled to rights.
Here's the heart of the argument: "This debate, which rages at a time when there is no consensus about what makes a person a person, began before an American electorate of white men was able to agree that a woman’s status as a citizen is any different from that of a child." (New Yorker article, linked above.)

Historically, women are left out of constitutional rights until the 19th amendment, which gives women the right to vote.  I'm voting for women's reproductive rights with my money and with my words, by supporting Planned Parenthood. 



  1. absolutely! As an older woman with no health insurance I count on Planned Parenthood as much now as I did as a very young woman -- now days they are the only hope I have of getting that all important mammogram (back in the day, they were my ONLY health care). It's really sad when a basic human need -- health screening -- becomes a pawn in a political game

    1. Agreed, Bev. I send my students to PP. Many of them don't have insurance either.

      I find it so interesting that it's only women's health/choice that's up for discussion. Never men's.

      If you get a chance, take a look at the history essay I linked. Such a great overview of the whole discussion!

  2. I came to comment on your gorgeous Bead Soup necklace, and then I ended up reading this post... and you're awesome! What you said about being more than a womb really resonated with me, and it's so refreshing to hear another woman say it.

    So *hugs.* And now I'm going to comment on your necklace.

    -- Sarah