I’m not here to get into a debate about life versus choice. My friends and family know my views on the subject of abortion and I have no interest getting into a relatively pointless internet argument with the pro-life movement. However, I will make my case to the internet because it helps illustrate the importance of this issue. There has been major debate in the U.S. lately about a potential decision to defund Planned Parenthood, and most of the debate has been surrounded and overwhelmed with rampant misogyny. There have been so-called “discussions” where men have done nothing but interrupt and talk over female PP representatives, and where people have blatantly ignored certain facts and statistics about PP because those facts did not suit their argument. I’m here because I’m fucking angry. And to paraphrase one of my favourite professors, I’m now going to offer a robust defence of Planned Parenthood.
Here are some facts about Planned Parenthood:
- Planned Parenthood does not solely offer safe abortions.
- Planned Parenthood also offers: anonymous STI/STD testing, Mental Health Services, Immunization, Nutritional Services, and help finding employment and housing opportunities.
- They also offer birth control and contraception at a reduced rate. As it is – in America anyway – if you do not have access to insurance you pay full price for birth control – and Men of the world, female contraception is expensive as fuck. (Sexism in men vs. women’s contraception options Exhibit A: Box of condoms = $10 CAN. One month Birth Control Pill prescription = $15 – $50 CAN).
- The mission statement of Planned Parenthood: “We are a pro-choice community health centre that advances and advocates for the sexual health, health, and well being of youth.”
- Their principles and values include but are not limited to: “Providing accurate and understandable information empowers individuals to make informed choices” and “Individuals have the right to control their lives and to make informed choices regarding their sexuality and reproduction.”
- Planned Parenthood also offers SAFE abortions.
First thing’s first, everything else aside, etcetera etcetera, taking away women’s opportunity to have a safe and healthy abortion will not stop the practice of abortion. It will only serve to make abortions more dangerous. It amazes me that people haven’t figured that out yet. I think almost every man and woman on earth knows a woman who has had a pregnancy scare. I’ve heard stories from women who drove or flew to Mexico, before abortions were practiced safely, to abort their unwanted pregnancy. Judy Garland, America’s Sweetheart, Dorothy Gale, the Perpetual Little Girl, had a back-alley abortion at the age of nineteen years. It’s never been as uncommon a thing as most of the Republican Male population of America might think.
Hannah Goff says something great and concise about bodily autonomy and abortion:
There is a concept called body autonomy. It’s generally considered a human right. Bodily autonomy means a person has control over who or what uses their body, for what, and for how long. It’s why you can’t be forced to donate blood, tissue, or organs. Even if you are dead. Even if you’d save or improve 20 lives. It’s why someone can’t touch you, have sex with you, or use your body in any way without your continuous consent.
A fetus is using someone’s body parts. Therefore under bodily autonomy, it is there by permission, not by right. It needs a person’s continuous consent. If they deny and withdraw their consent, the pregnant person has the right to remove them from that moment. A fetus is equal in this regard because if I need someone else’s body parts to live, they can also legally deny me their use.
By saying a fetus has a right to someone’s body parts until it’s born, despite the pregnant person’s wishes, you are doing two things.
1. Granting a fetus more rights to other people’s bodies than any born person.
2. Awarding a pregnant person less rights to their body than a corpse.
I think this ties in rather well with Planned Parenthood’s idea that “individuals have the right to control their lives and to make informed choices regarding their sexuality and reproduction.” The defunding of Planned Parenthood because of the pro-life argument seems to suggest that everyone has a right to bodily autonomy – unless of course, you’re a pregnant female.
All abortion arguments aside, as a woman, I need an institution like Planned Parenthood. I cannot possibly begin to imagine what life was like before the existence of such a place. Men seem to constantly tell us just how “sacred” our life-bearing ability is while essentially telling us what we can and cannot do with that ability and squashing any attempt to properly learn about our bodies and our options. Simply knowing that there is an accessible place where myself and other women can learn about our own reproductive and sexual health in as non-judgemental and open a manner as men may discuss their own health makes me feel safer. Understanding that there is a support system out there for me, my friends and my family if we ever find ourselves in trouble is immensely helpful. Planned Parenthood is not only a place where women go to abort unwanted pregnancies. It is an institution where women can find refuge from a world in which it is embarrassing to talk about something as simple as mammograms and menstruation. Men who cannot possibly fully understand the effort that goes into taking proper care of our oh-so-precious life-bearing bodies – sorry guys, but you don’t and you never will – should not (now or ever) be allowed to make decisions for women regarding our own bodies. So I stand with Planned Parenthood.