by: Lindsey Gavel
Oh hey, America.
I’m just going to cut to the chase here: If you’ve ever called Planned Parenthood an abortion clinic, this letter is for you. If you believe that the only services Planned Parenthood clinics provide are limited to those concerning abortion and abortion counseling, this letter is for you. And if you’ve decided that Planned Parenthood is evil and must be promptly defunded, you better fucking believe that this letter is for you.
Let’s get something straight. Planned Parenthood is an institution that is vital to anyone in this country with a properly functioning or, for that matter, improperly functioning reproductive tract. For more than 90 years now, Planned Parenthood has been providing reproductive health care, sexual education, counseling, and vital information to people who fall all across the spectrum of the LBGTQA community, and even to those of you idiots who who fall into the “straight and narrow and nothing in-between” mindset.
Whoa. Wait. Hold up. They provide services to everyone? Even those who identify as male? Even to those who aren’t looking to get an abortion?
Yes. “Everyone” means everyone. Because, you see, unlike you, Planned Parenthood doesn’t discriminate. They don’t judge you based on your respective reproductive parts, they’ll work with you to afford health services regardless of your financial situation, and they’ll actually listen to your concerns and questions. Sounds incredible, right? So, then why are there still so many people out there protesting this institution and working around the clock to get them defunded and shut down?
It’s simple, really.
Planned Parenthood has made enemies of those who are “pro-lifers” by offering abortion services and abortion counseling.
Actually, let’s back up for a second. What exactly does it mean to be pro-life? According to ye olde dictionary, to be pro-life means that you advocate the full legal protection of embryos and fetuses (and especially oppose the legalization of induced abortions). Got it. Makes sense. On the other side of things, we have those who are “pro-choice.” This is where I feel as though I need to clarify a bit. All too often, in today’s media and especially in current legislative debate, those of us who are pro-choice are accused of being “pro-abortion.” Being described as someone who is pro-abortion doesn’t sit well with me; not only is it completely untrue, but it also makes it sound as though we run around advocating a woman’s ability to end the life of an embryo or fetus.
My own personal view, as a cisgendered woman who is completely pro-choice, is as follows: I believe that every female-identified person has the right to control her own body. Furthermore, I believe that every human being has the right to complete body control. I don’t go around encouraging abortion, but I do advocate your right to make a decision based on your own personal situation, lifestyle, and needs. If abortion is the right choice for you, cool. If adoption is the best answer, awesome. It’s your life, it’s your body, and I do not have the right to govern that for you. Moving on.
Yes, Planned Parenthood offers abortion assistance. Care to know what else they offer to over 50 million uninsured American citizens that can’t afford outrageous doctor and hospital bills? Birth control options. Body image counseling. Relationship counseling. Pregnancy counseling and assistance. Counseling with regards to sex, sexuality, sexual health, sexual orientation, and gender. STD testing. Breast cancer screenings. Cervical cancer prevention. Assistance with infertility. Menstruation and menopause assistance. Ovarian cancer testing. Pap tests and HPV screenings. Pelvic exams. UTI testing. MEN’S GENERAL FUCKING HEALTHCARE (including but not limited to: male birth control, male infertility assistance, Testicular cancer screening, Colon cancer screening, Erectile Dysfunction assistance, routine physical exams, Prostate cancer screening, UTI testing and treatment, and vasectomy services). GENERAL FUCKING HEALTHCARE. Testing and screening services for anemia, cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure, and thyroid problems. General physical exams. Flu vaccines. Tetanus vaccines. The list goes on and on.
The real beauty of Planned Parenthood? Knowing that a place exists full of educated, empathetic people who are willing to help you find answers regardless of circumstance.
The Mitt Romneys of this country are seeking to defund and abolish an institution that offers an incredible list of life-saving services that are provided to the general, uninsured public in a cost-effective, compassionate manner. What I don’t understand is why. Can it really be because Planned Parenthood offers abortion services, and they just don’t believe in abortion? A belief that is most often rooted in religion? In a country where we are specifically granted the freedom of religion and the separation of church and state?
To put it simply, it’s a power struggle and I call bullshit.
I am 25 years old. Theoretically, I am still covered by the insurance plan of my parents for one more year. But that plan only covers me if I go back to Michigan, and quite honestly, I haven’t been able to get a straight answer from my doctors for years. Testing for this, testing for that, phone calls and voicemails, MRI’s and Ultrasounds, page after page of medical jargon no one wants to discuss the state of my reproductive tract with me until I 努ant to have children. Pissed off and looking for other options, I called my local Planned Parenthood after the last round of tests and internal body photos. The outcome?
I had a lengthy, detailed conversation with a lovely older woman she asked me questions, let me explain my concerns and issues, and concluded our hour-long chat with this: “Well, we’d certainly love to have a chance to sit down and talk with you in person about your concerns and questions. We’re here to help, and if we can’t get answers for you, we will absolutely find someone who can.” Really? All of this from a woman who has never met me, doesn’t know my name, has never seen a picture of my uterus, and doesn’t give a flying fuck about whether or not I have health insurance? How can this institution be a bad thing?
Planned Parenthood has provided necessary, life-saving services to those who need them the most for over 90 years. 90. YEARS. But in a society where we continue to focus on the negative, this institution is fighting an uphill battle against those who don’t believe in some of the services they provide against those who are willing to deny the uninsured public access to general health care based on a singular belief. Talk about cutting off your nose to spite your face, eh?
For those of you who are insured, uninsured, looking for answers, or just hoping for a tetanus shot, I encourage you to support your local Planned Parenthood. Call them up, ask them questions, and visit them in person learn what Planned Parenthood is truly all about, and spread the word. Better yet, volunteer with them and meet the people who help save lives without judgement and pay special attention to the faces who depend on them because they have nowhere else to turn. Send letters to your senators on behalf of Planned Parenthood and encourage your representatives to take a stand on legislation that is meant to defund this life-saving institution. If they are willing to fight for us, we need to be willing to fight for them.
Lindsey Gavel is an outspoken and opinionated atheist, feminist, and cyclist living in Chicago. She graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a BFA in Acting, so naturally, she has a day job slinging lattes. She “works” around town as an actor, theatre production-er, musician, and writer, and is a huge nerd for anything sci-fi. Disclaimer: She’s a Daywalker.