Planned Parenthood.

What’s been so frustrating to me about the House’s move to defund Planned Parenthood yesterday (never fear: the bill will likely die in the Senate) is that House Republicans, especially the bill’s sponsor, Mike Pence, are counting on most Americans not knowing anything about the nonprofit.

The vast majority of its services are for routine gynecological care, which it provides to women without insurance with fees on a sliding scale according to income. (Only 3 percent of its procedures are abortions.) Planned Parenthood has always been a safety net for poor women and women in between jobs, and no woman in America should have to interrupt her birth control because she can’t afford it or skip an annual physical because some dude in Indiana wants to play to his base.

I’ve gone to Planned Parenthood clinics even when I’ve had insurance, because I’m certain of the standard of care and because PP clinics are always among the most welcoming, least judgmental atmospheres in which a woman can find herself. I’ve had to switch doctors often because I change jobs or move, and with one exception every non-PP gynecologist has found some opportunity to take the conversation into uncomfortable territory, whether it’s “why do you need birth control if you’re not in a relationship?’ or “well, when do you plan to have children?” More than that, Planned Parenthood works extra hard to make you comfortable: When I came alone once to get a slightly invasive test, an extra nurse came in just to hold my hand. When I was worried about what the results would be, they set up an extra appointment just to talk me through the possibilities. Try to find an ob-gyn with time to do that.

So, it’s time to stand up for the millions of Americans who don’t want their tax dollars to pay Mike Pence’s salary.

  • i did a twitter search on Planned Parenthood after the vote, and most of the people who expressed support for it pointedly referred to their being pro-life. you’ve got to think that those folks have just never availed themselves of all the other services PP provides, or live in a place where people don’t discuss their PP visits.

    • I’ve got to think it’s the latter. Prediction: Everyone in America knows at least one woman who’s visited a PP clinic at least once.

      There are only two in the whole state of Arkansas, and I’d predict that someone I know there has picked up cheap birth control. (In fact, I know someone who has.)

  • I have one really conservative friend. Being pro-life is one of the main reasons he votes Republican. Anyway, we went to IHOP one day for lunch. There was a Planned Parenthood clinic in the same location. He acted so disgusted, as if he had been told that a child molester lived on his block. At the time, I really didn’t know too much about Planned Parenthood. I’ve always had insurance and access to some good women’s health care at our student center, but definitely know women who have used their services.

  • Not only did I use PP for birth control when I was 17 (and thanks in part to their counselling and availability, I had ZERO unplanned pregnancies for the next fifteen years), but I also know many people for whom PP provided *all* their medical care in years when they lacked any insurance whatsoever.

    I got into an argument the other day with someone who was idiotically complaining that PP pushes abortions on people because they’re making $ off them. Color me furious.

    • quadmoniker

      It’s so ignorant and maddening. A lot of people I know have been having these arguments for the last few days. Firstly, nonprofits don’t make money! Secondly, if passing out birth control is a plan to encourage people to have more sex in the hopes they accidentally get pregnant and you can make money by pressuring them into an abortion, for which you charge a fee based on that person’s income, it’s the worst business plan ever!

  • Clearly PP has had a successful negative PR campaign waged against it. During this latest dust-up I was surprised to see and hear statements made agaisnt the group (I shouldn’t have been surprised, I guess). You’d think they were handing out abortions on punch cards in kindergarten classes.

    Kang: Abortions for all.
    [crowd boos]
    Kang: Very well, no abortions for anyone.
    [crowd boos]
    Kang: Hmm… Abortions for some, miniature American flags for others.
    [crowd cheers and waves miniature flags]

    OK, back to seriousness. Living working class in an economically-depressed area my associations with PP have been almost entirely regarding birth control, gynecological exams, and referrals for counseling.

  • Madjoy

    I consider myself pro-life (in the sense that I think abortion is morally wrong, and if a number of other policy changes were put in place, I think I would like to see it not be a legal option).

    However, I am equally frustrated with the idiocy of House Republicans and the mainstream pro-life movement. In my mind, the way to reduce abortions safely and humanely is to increase access to and education about birth control. Doctors should NEVER question if someone really needs birth control, and it should be encouraged (though never forced) even before someone is sexually active.

    Anyway. Count me among the pro-life individuals angry about this decision. The mainstream pro-life movement is shooting itself in the foot.

  • Momma!

    if i would have known that PP offers(ed) all of those services, I definitely would have gone to them during those lean, mean and inbetween times when i did not have full medical coverage. it’s probably less than a hassle for services than what states/counties offer.

    i am with Madjoy, i believe that abortion is morally wrong, however, i do not judge because i have no heaven or hell to put anyone in. i just think abortion is misused by some people who use it as a method of birth control. i was just having a conversation about a female that i knew growing up at last count she was up to 17 (abortions) and that was in the 90’s!

  • Nanda Stamhorn

    Perhaps it’s time to stand up for the millions of Americans who don’t want their tax dollars to pay for a nurse to hold your hand . . .

    • Tabitha

      this is so maddening. women go to PP for all kinds of reasons. when i’ve been without healthcare or in between jobs, i could always rely on going to PP for whatever. i’ve also preferred to use them for all my STD tests even when i have insurance b/c i prefer to the judgment free environment. whenever i’ve gone- i see all different types of women there getting their needs met. it’s sad that ALL of this is being disregarded to push an agenda.

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