You've probably heard by now that yesterday, Trump said he would be open to continuing funding Planned Parenthood... if the organization stopped providing abortions. Are you simply overwhelmed by his magnanimous generosity? No? Me neither — and it's because of all the arguments in support of Planned Parenthood so many of us are tired of having to make.
We're tired of having to defend our desire to have complete control over our bodies. We're tired of being second-class citizens at the hands of a largely male-dominated government. And we're really tired of constantly struggling to find options for safe, accessible, and affordable health care for women — because there really aren't that many. Trump isn't throwing us a bone; it's yet another manipulative move on his and his administration's part to negotiate our freedom. But this freedom isn't — and should not be — negotiable.
One of the biggest reasons we're so over fighting about this is because our arguments aren't just opinions — they're backed by research, history, and science. And yet, here we are, still trying to get Planned Parenthood opponents to understand that without PP, we have nothing to gain and so much to lose.
We should not have to make these arguments. But we find ourselves having to make them again. But no matter how tired we get of it, we will keep making these for as long as we have to. Because reproductive healthcare, and access to abortion, and everything else that Planned Parenthood provides is not optional. It is essential. And Planned Parenthood is, too.
1Federal Funding Does Not Go To Abortions
Once more: Federal funding does. Not. Go. To. Abortions. How can you be so sure, you ask? It's called the Hyde Amendment, and it guarantees that federal dollars aren't spent on abortion. This is nothing new — the Hyde Amendment has been around since 1976. Again: Fact, not opinion. The only exceptions (which weren't made until 1994, by the way) are if the parent's life is in danger, if the pregnancy was a result of rape, or if it was a result of incest. Read: A pregnancy could utterly trash someone's health short of killing them, their doctor could recommend an abortion, and it still won't necessarily be covered.
2Criminalizing Abortion Does Not Make Abortion Rates Go Down
Make no mistake about it: Telling someone they are not legally permitted to have an abortion will not prevent them from having one. Global studies comparing countries where abortion is legal (such as one conducted by scientists from the World Health Organization in Geneva and the Guttmacher Institute in New York) to those where it isn't have come to the conclusion that outlawing abortion doesn't do much to stop women from getting one.
You know what it does change? How safe the procedure is. Sure enough, where abortion is illegal, abortions (which, again, occur at roughly the same rates) are simply more dangerous to our health. The conditions are less safe, and the professionals performing them aren't as well-trained.
3Legalizing Abortion Does Make Abortion Rates Go Down
Look to some developing countries as an example, many of which have criminalized abortion while also making it harder to get contraception. The World Health Organization and Guttmacher Institute found that their abortion rates have stayed about the same, while abortion rates in the more developed parts of the worlds have dropped to an all-time low. (As another example, look at South Africa: Abortion was legalized in 1996, and the country saw a 90 percent decrease in the death rate of women getting abortions.)
This culture of denying people reproductive rights and access to the appropriate health care often goes hand in hand with (in addition to less available contraception) less sex education and other family-planning services.
So, it would seem that in addition to legalizing abortion, providing birth control and other kinds of care would also help lower abortion rates. You know which organization does that? I'll give you one guess.
4Abortion Makes Up A Very Small Percentage Of Planned Parenthood's Actions
Abortion gets all the spotlight; and yet, out of all of the people visiting Planned Parenthood clinics, very few of them are actually receiving abortion services. PP puts this number at around three percent. Yes, this number can be debated. Seven percent, 12 percent, 14 percent, and 15 percent have also been proposed. It's a tough statistic to pinpoint because there are so many variables at play; but the point is this: Hingeing Planned Parenthood's entire existence on just one service is a horribly miscalculated move.
5Planned Parenthood Provides A Huge Number Of Essential Health Services To People Of All Genders
Newsflash: It's not just cisgender women sitting in the Planned Parenthood waiting room; and the roughly five million people they help every single year are there for a variety of reasons. They provide almost 300,000 Pap tests and over 360,000 breast exams every year. They give well over four millions STI tests and treatments (including 650,000 HIV tests). Planned Parenthood's 2013-2014 annual report revealed that they provided birth control information and services to over three million people; over one million emergency contraception kits were provided, and over 500,000 unintended pregnancies were avoided thanks to their contraception services. So, Planned Parenthood: Offering abortions? Yes. Helping people avoid abortions? Yes. Reducing the number of abortions? Yes.
Furthermore, PP makes all of their services affordable, particularly for the uninsured or underinsured. They do this with something called a sliding scale, where fees are based on annual income and household size.
6You Can't Put The Responsibility Of Pregnancy And Motherhood On Women, And Then Take Away Our Resources
We condemn people we deem "too young" to become parents but choose to do so anyway. We also condemn them for getting abortions in an attempt to avoid this stereotype. We condemn low income people for having children because they're "ill-equipped," and then we condemn them for irresponsibly having a child they can't comfortably support.
But here we are, still defending the organization that helps prevent the very procedure some people despise so much, that provides education and contraception to the young women and poor women who very likely won't find it elsewhere.
You take away our tools and then punish us for the position we end up in — a position that is often the result of a lack of resources?
7BTW, Where Are The Cisgender Men In All Of This?
Members of the Trump administration have had serious discussions of punishing some women who get abortions with fees or jail time; but I'm pretty sure that woman didn't climb on top of herself and get pregnant. We've yet to hear what kind of repercussions there will be for the man in this situation. But the likelier outcome is that there will be none.