Planned Parenthood Uses Poetry To Respond To Health Care Bill

by Morgan Brinlee
Touchstone Pictures

How do you respond to legislation that stands to roll back women's health care by making it harder for women to access basic health services like contraception, maternity coverage, and preventative care? If you're Planned Parenthood you organize protests, launch campaigns emphasizing the importance of civic engagement, and ... write poetry. A Planned Parenthood affiliate responded to the Senate health care bill by putting their own spin on the infamous poem from the movie 10 Things I Hate About You.

In the pivotal scene of 10 Things I Hate About You Julia Stiles' character reads an emotional poem she wrote about all the reasons why she hates Heath Ledger's character. A Planned Parenthood advocacy group took a page from the iconic 90s teen flick in expressing their outrage over Republican legislators' health care bill through poetry. Entitled 13 Things I Hate About You, the poem is addressed directly to the "American 'Health Care' Act" and follows a format similar to the poem in 10 Things I Hate About You.

"I hate the way you don't represent me and the way you steal our care," the poem, which has been shared by both the Planned Parenthood Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota Action Fund and the Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado & Votes New Mexico, begins. "I hate the way you're written by only men, though it's millions of women who will be left behind," it continues.

Planned Parenthood isn't the only organization to express concern with how the Senate health care bill stands to impact women. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) has said they believe the bill will effectively "turn back the clock" on women's health. “This legislation deliberately strips the landmark women’s health gains made by the Affordable Care Act and would severely limit access to care," ACOG President Dr. Haywood Brown said in a statement.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the list of "essential health benefits" insurers must cover was expanded to include more basic women's health services such as mammograms, birth control, maternity care, and cervical cancer screenings. The Senate bill, however, appears to follow a tactic similar to that outlined in the House bill — to allow states to define essential health benefits and levels of coverage. Many women's health experts fear such a move could result in women losing affordable access to basic health services.

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The bill's proposed cuts to Medicaid funding also stand to have a direct impact on women, as the program reportedly covers half of all births, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. Moreover, the bill's call to cut Medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood could prevent women on Medicaid from receiving contraception and preventative care like cancer screenings, STD testing, and pap smears as local health centers struggle to fill the gap left by Planned Parenthood, one of the nation's largest providers of women's health care.

One glaring difference between Planned Parenthood's poem and the infamous movie version? While the poem from 10 Things I Hate About You ends with Stiles' character tearfully admitting that the thing she hates most is that, despite really, really wanting to, she actually doesn't hate Ledger's character at all, Planned Parenthood's poem has no such emotional twist.

"But mostly I hate the way you don't really care about Americans' health," Planned Parenthood's poem concludes. "Not even close. Not even a little bit. Not even at all."