As a junior in high school, my AP U.S. History teacher held my chin in her hands and looking into my eyes said, “I have faith in you.”
At the time she was teasing me in a friendly way, pretending to soothe my heartache after Bill Clinton won the 1992 election. She, too, had once been like me: a faithful Republican until around the time she left for college. I have never forgotten what I felt like when her blue eyes met mine: “I have faith in you.”
Truth be told, I can’t say exactly when it was when my entire frame of vision changed, but at some point in my life I went from being the very conservative Republican I was taught to be to who I am now: a Democrat who leans more on the moderate to liberal side. And while I marvel at the blind allegiance I once held towards the GOP, I do believe the GOP of my youth is not the GOP of today.
Stand With Planned Parenthood
I am now 40 years old and still clearly remember the confusion I had over Planned Parenthood and what exactly it does when I was a young teenager. I can now fully blame this confusion on people who wanted to purposely program me to believe a specific point of view. Their point of view. This point of view might have carried over into my adulthood but instead I forced myself to ask questions and learn the facts, which turned out to be something very different from what I had been told.
Before I have people yelling at me: yes, there could be countless reasons why people program others to believe specific points of view, and many times they are not bad reasons. I am not saying I was brainwashed or that I was manipulated (but watch, someone will still accuse me of saying that). Often times, people will program someone to believe certain things out of sincere love or simple caution. For example, parents often program their children to not watch television in the dark because it will hurt their eyes even though this is not true. Yes, “program” might sound harsher than the word “teach”, but it essentially means the same thing–only programming takes much longer to “unteach”.
We grow up to know that watching television in the dark won’t actually hurt our eyes; however it can take longer to “unlearn” being taught to be “pro-life”, even if the teaching was without malice. I say this to underscore that I am not implying programming is the same as brainwashing or manipulation. Realistically, I was taught to be pro-life and that abortion is “evil” in hopes of keeping me chaste and practicing abstinence until marriage.
Or, let’s just say — hypothetically speaking and for the sake of conversation — that some of us are told that abortion is evil and we are pro-life because: women shouldn’t be having sex unless they’re married, women should have to bear the consequences of sexual assault, women are unnatural if they don’t want a baby, and women should be home with their children & not at work.
There’s more to this conversation and I recognize that. I understand the religious aspect because I come from that background. While I am pro-choice, I personally believe abortion to only be an option in the cases of preserving the mother’s health, rape and incest. However, I am adamant that abortion should always remain legal for women. Always.
My concept of choice absolutely should and cannot be every woman’s concept of choice. And we can’t go back to the alley. We can’t and we won’t. We must always be cognizant of this truth: defunding Planned Parenthood will not eradicate abortion. Overturning Roe v. Wade will not eradicate abortion. Doing both of these things will only eliminate safe abortion.
More importantly, though, what Speaker Ryan does’t want you to realize is that Planned Parenthood has nothing to do with abortions at all.
Speaker Ryan: Stop It
Right now, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan is salivating over defunding Planned Parenthood. His GOP cronies are also eager to do so as this will be one more step closer to zeroing out any federal funds allocated to Planned Parenthood. Ryan and his counterparts seem to not understand basic government and civics as this came up just a few years ago when they tried the same tactic.
The Hyde Amendment prevents federal money from funding programs that include abortion services, unless they are needed to preserve the life of the mother or are caused by incest or rape.
Make no mistake, Ryan and the rest of his crew don’t care about saving babies or God’s will or any of you Christian Right Crusaders. If you think they do, than I hate to break this to you: they just want to be reelected.
This is about money. I know, I know, gasp all you want, but wait until I tell you it’s also about power and control.
I know it’s difficult to believe facts and shit. When people like me tell you things like The Hyde Amendment prevents the feds from paying for abortions, I know it’s easy to deny it and say you watched some fucked up video on the YouTube that had a billionty shares. And why would those activists lie to you when they made a totally slanted, biased, and doctored up video that was proven to be fake in a congressional hearing?
I totally get it. Reality is a bitch.
But listen, The Hyde Amendment is real. And you know what else is real? Something called Title X (the X is a ten in Roman numerals). In 1970 President Nixon (of all people) fought for and signed into law Title X of the Public Health Services Act, providing money for voluntary family planning programs because, he said, “no American woman should be denied access to family planning assistance because of her economic condition.”
Yeah, President Nixon said that.
Here is what They don’t want You to know — there is no line item in the federal budget that is labeled “Planned Parenthood”. Why? Because Title X is overseen by the Department of Health and Human Services and provides money to approximately 4,200 family planning centers, serving about 4.5 million clients per year.
Before you get excited thinking this Title X thing is the “abortion smoking gun”, calm the hell down.
Title X monies are distributed to not only Planned Parenthood (12% of its government grants and reimbursements) but also to state, county, and local government health departments as well as community health centers, hospital providers, school and faith-based health care providers, and other private nonprofits. Not just Planned Parenthood, people. Think about it.
That’s to all of those places. So if you get your flu shots at the county health department, guess where the funding comes from for those flu shots? Title X. And you know how Speaker Ryan and his buddies say that they can defund Planned Parenthood because there are other “health services agencies and centers” that can provide the same services like breast exams, cervical cancer screenings, STD testing, and so forth that Planned Parenthood does so people can just calm their precious selves?
Well, those health service agencies and centers won’t be able to do those things because defunding Planned Parenthood means defunding Title X and that money sorta just *poof* disappears. Wonder where it goes, you know? Poofing money must go somewhere, don’t you think? Especially when you add that poofy disappearing Title X money to the extra-poofy disappearing Medicaid money.
And then there’s the 75% that comes from patients who are insured by Medicaid. The remaining monies come from grants given from the Centers for Disease Control and other federal agencies for teen pregnancy prevention, sex education and screenings for cancer, HIV and other STDs.
Why is Speaker Ryan poofing this money away from people who need it most? And where is it going? It’s like there is a special Paul Ryan Poofing Money Black Hole somewhere.
When you hear Speaker Ryan boldly speak about defunding Planned Parenthood as if he and the GOP are heroically saving the nation from some brutal regime, remind yourself that they are hiding behind the abortion debate as if they give a shit about noble causes. If they actually did, they would be pouring money into Medicaid and other health services so that Planned Parenthood would become obsolete.
Defunding Planned Parenthood means telling low income people they will no longer be able to use their Medicaid coverage at Planned Parenthood. Not only is this socially unjust, it is fiscally unwise. For every dollar spent on Medicaid family planning services, we save $5.60 in publicly-subsidized medical care and benefits for pregnant women.
Do the Right Thing
I feel like we spend so much time in this country arguing about things that shouldn’t even be a question. Should we take care of the poor and needy? Yes! Should we offer medical resources to those who otherwise wouldn’t have them? Yes!
Why is this even up for debate? Have we lost our damned minds? We have women who aren’t able to have yearly pap smears because they can barely afford to ride the fucking bus to the nearest Planned Parenthood clinic, yet our Speaker of the House wants to defund them, so I guess these women are out of luck. And why?
So Americans who are anti-abortion can pat themselves on the back thinking they stopped Planned Parenthood from doing all the abortions that they weren’t doing at all with any of the money they weren’t ever getting from the federal government in the first place.
Defunding Planned Parenthood means that the 53% of women who were in need of public funded services and supplies were living 250% below the federal poverty level (or younger than 20). That’s 20 million out of 38 million according to the most current data (2014).
Defunding Planned Parenthood and repealing the Affordable Care Act means that the decrease we saw in uninsured U.S. women in 2014 will substantially increase. Not only this, but the proportion of women who needed publicly funded services and who were uninsured between 2013 and 2014 will increase by more than one million.
Defunding Planned Parenthood is about keeping the poor in their place and keeping them sick, because when they’re poor and sick they won’t rise up against those in charge.
If Not You, Than Who?
Don’t be the annoying person who says, “Well, when I xyz I didn’t 123” or whatever. Everybody is happy that when you were snake-belly-poor you were still able to pay for your birth control pills or pap smears or had a baby and never regretted it or whatever your magnificent, faith inspiring personal story is. And I’m sure we will all be appropriately shocked and mortified if you have to share that one story about that one abortion doctor who was arrested for doing that one thing to that one person.
But listen: Your experience is not my experience. My experience is not that person’s experience. Our experiences make all of us who we are so that we can help others, not beat up on others. Nobody’s experience is better or worse, and nobody’s experience should be used as the Gold Standard.
If we don’t help those in need than who will? If we don’t stand up to Speaker Ryan and the GOP and say, “No, don’t take away their money” who will?
Right now, they think they hold all the cards. They think they can play people’s emotions against each other. And you should be offended by that. You should be offended by them using your cause, your belief in saving babies — no matter how I or anyone else feels — against you. Because it’s not about saving babies to them. It’s about saving money and keeping themselves in office.
If we defund Planned Parenthood than what’s next? Who will they go after next? We need to stop letting them divide us and unite instead so we can take care of each other, because they certainly won’t.They might think they hold all the cards, but I say it’s time we start shuffling them first.
I know we can do it. I’m holding your chin in my hands and looking straight in your eyes like my AP U.S History teacher once did to me. I have faith in you.