If you're still skeptical at all about Planned Parenthood (perhaps you've never personally used their services, and maybe everyone else you know is lucky enough to have access to private health care), then you might want to check out one of the many #PinkOut rallies happening across the country in support of Planned Parenthood, like I did yesterday. It will help give you a much better sense of the deeply flawed "logic" of those seeking to defund Planned Parenthood, and exactly how ruinous it would be to the 2.7 million Americans (and by default, the countless other people they interact with sexually) who use Planned Parenthood every year if the GOP's aims are fully realized.
I personally don't see why any human should be against Planned Parenthood. In case you need to be brought up to speed, Planned Parenthood is an independent not-for-profit entity that gives free healthcare to women who have been otherwise excluded from health care services for financial reasons. Sounds fantastic, right? Well there are some folks (predominantly The Republican Party and their supporters) who want Planned Parenthood defunded, which would mean cutting all government spending on PP, and putting a massive, potentially insurmountable chasm in PP's resources. It's exactly why these #PinkOut rallies are so important, and exactly why Planned Parenthood needs support now more than ever.
From the moment I stepped off the subway at Brooklyn Bridge the crowd of on-street commuters was peppered with dots of hurrying pink, the signifying color of #PinkOut. As I got closer to Foley Square and shouts erupted before me, the little dots blended into one giant puddle of pink amongst the city's concrete. It became clear why pink, the stereotypical "girl's color," was the right choice. Seeing the crowd embracing the color of passive femininity with such a roaring, giddy, unifying and decisive mission, gave the traditional color of delicate girlhood a belting, surging power. Let me tell you this: nothing will make your knees shake like a group of people, men and women, of all ages, sexualities, colors, shapes, sizes, and walks of life, dressed in vibrant pink, all shouting for the same rights. OUR rights. It's absolutely moving, and if the crowd isn't enough to get you, here's some things you'll learn at a #PinkOut rally that will make even the biggest Doubting Thomas or Negative Nancy stand with Planned Parenthood:
1. Planned Parenthood Is Essential To Women's Rights
Planned Parenthood is, at its very core, meant to help women. PP protects your right to health care. Not just your right to birth control — your right to breast exams, your right to pap tests, your right to STD screening and treatment. And yes, your right to abortion. These rights, despite being inexorable, basic human rights, are under attack, and Planned Parenthood is fighting for them, which is why we should fight for Planned Parenthood. We can't labor under the apathetic assumption that we live in a free and non-threatening liberal society. We don't, and there are people who would give everything they have to make it even less so.
And even if you don't think the benefits apply to you, you should still be standing up for these basic rights. Many treatments the organization makes available to women, from STD treatments to abortions, benefit men as well. Meanwhile, if you're any kind of man (cis, trans, gay, or any of the huge variety of ways people might identify), you might love a woman, whether it's your mother, sister, daughter, girlfriend, or wife, and she might need Planned Parenthood to protect her reproductive health. If you want her to be healthy and happy, you'll want her to have continued unencumbered access to the services that allow her to be so.
2. It's Not Just About Abortion
Abortion seems to be the hot button issue the GOP clings to in order to demonize PP, even though the organization offers so much more than that. In their 2013-14 Annual Report, Planned Parenthood announced that only 3 percent of their services were abortions, while 80 percent of Planned Parenthood patients actually receive services, like birth control, to PREVENT unintended pregnancy. The GOP wants to do away with all the services PP offers women at no cost, not just abortion, which means that they're against women having things such as simple as access to free condoms or breast exams. People seeking to defund PP so far haven't offered any other alternative to affordable healthcare for women, either.
3. It's About Safety
To further the above point, Planned Parenthood is not just about abortions. PP is about prevention, care, and above all else, safety. Yes, that includes SAFE abortions. It also includes 4.5 million tests and treatments conducted for STDs, including 700,000 HIV tests. It includes care for 1.5 million sexually active young people who have nowhere else to go. It includes over 400,000 pap tests and 500,000 breast exams, many of which are able to prevent life-threatening cancer. Planned Parenthood is not only the last option for women without health insurance to maintain their reproductive health — it's the only option. As New York's First Lady Chirlane McCray put it, "Congress should be ashamed to deny services to women who cannot access health care."
4. Planned Parenthood Connects Us Together
It only took a glance at the crowd and speakers to see the breadth of Planned Parenthood's influence. People of every sex, color, age, pay-bracket, size, and style were there in droves as supporters, volunteers and speakers. Not only that, they were interacting, embracing, shouting together as one (that baby in that photo up there is actually dancing to Janelle Monae's "Q.U.E.E.N"). Planned Parenthood is unifying in that it doesn't judge — which, ironically, is the one thing that its detractors do do. PP helps those who need it, indiscriminately.
The intersectionality of Planned Parenthood is breathtaking, and one of the few places we can put aside all of our differences for the greater good: our health. And so it should be! Healthcare should be blind to anything other than the outstretched arm of a person in need. As one of the speakers put it, "Planned Parenthood connects us. There's no distance between race, gender, or who we choose to love."
5. A Woman's Body Belongs To Her And To Her Alone
"My body belongs to only me, and I have a right to passionate, informed, professional healthcare!" yelled Stacyann Chin to a crowd that was passionate with agreement. Standing amongst those pink-clad women, girls, and men, the central issue became autonomy. It was and is clear that by defunding Planned Parenthood, we'd be stripping women of their bodily integrity. Women should be able to make decisions for their own bodies, whether it's going for a run in the morning or aborting an unwanted fetus. Fighting for Planned Parenthood is fighting, first and foremost, to protect CHOICE. And for women who don't have access to healthcare, there is no choice if there is no Planned Parenthood. Without PP we cannot choose regular pap tests. We can't choose to be checked for STDs. We can't choose to terminate. Without Planned Parenthood, those things are preordained for women. Choice is eliminated. I stand with Planned Parenthood. I stand with choice.
If you're still not convinced, make the time to attend a rally next time there's one in your city. It's a peaceful, inspiring way to get to know the community of Planned Parenthood supporters, and to really get a first hand grasp on exactly how important Planned Parenthood is to women. It's pretty hard not to be moved by the countless women who have had their lives saved by the services provided by Planned Parenthood, whether that be cancer detecting exams or abortions. By the time you're done listening, hopefully you too will be able to say that you stand for Planned Parenthood — because believe it or not, Planned Parenthood stands for you, with open arms, and without judgment, even if you've been judgmental yourself.
Images: Kat George/Instagram