September 29, 2015
After months of vicious attacks involving videotaped conversations portraying Planned Parenthood employees selling “baby parts” on the black market for profit, our country’s budget is nearly stalled out as right-wing Republicans call for “investigations” and threaten to shut down the government. This is not the first time women’s rights have been under attack, nor will it be the last, because we live in a misogynistic culture. Even though I live in a mostly upper middle class white neighborhood, I see signs of it each and every day among affluent women – grown women who choose to dress, speak and live according to “norms” and standards that a male-dominated culture has established for them – and they don’t even seem to notice or mind. Well I do.
To be clear, I think abortion is a tragically sad thing and I assure you, nobody that has one is thrilled about it. I have seen many women experience gut-wrenching self-examination and heartache as they consider their alternatives when they find themselves pregnant before they are ready to raise a family.
For them, abortion should be a legal, accessible, safe procedure.
Cutting federal funding to Planned Parenthood clinics only restricts access to many important and life-saving services that women, mostly poor, desperately need: cancer screenings, sexually transmitted disease screenings and treatment, and birth control, to begin with.
Engaging in campaigns to change women’s minds once they have decided to have an abortion is both ineffective (even though the Pro-Life movement can always drudge up examples of a select few unborn they have “saved” outside an abortion clinic) and harassing. It is also deeply egregious to assume that a woman who chooses to terminate a pregnancy has neither the will nor the capability to consider all her alternatives.
This quote by Madeleine Albright really pertains to the workplace. I don’t even know if she is pro-choice. Nonetheless, I feel moved to share it in this context because it is shameful that any woman would presume to bully a sister rather than support her in her time of deepest need and possibly shame. To those women (and men) I say this: It does not matter whether you believe life begins at conception or not: are you going to raise the unwanted child?
“I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”. — Sister Joan Chittister, Catholic Nun
Even though adoption exists, even adoption experts report that there are barriers to a pregnant woman choosing this option that go beyond just the accessibility of the choice: shame, fear, lack of financial and social support, psychological inability to cope with carrying a baby to term and then losing it. It takes a very strong person to carry a pregnancy to term knowing that at the end there will only be heartache and loss. Those women that choose this option/path are to be praised. But we cannot all emulate them. That’s the fact.
So, today, I join millions of men and women across the country in simply asserting that Planned Parenthood is an important organization – especially for women – that provides many critical services to the poorest among us and that, dismantling it by restricting access through funding or any other means is just wrong. Abortions will continue regardless of whether they are legal and safe. Shouldn’t women live in a culture that supports choice and promotes safe, affordable, legal access to reproductive services? I think so.