Travis Noddings, LSRJ Summer Intern, (’15, University of Florida)
I shared a video of Elizabeth Warren’s speech from the senate floor, in which she calls out right wing attacks on Planned Parenthood as being stuck in the misogynic past. This was the first comment it received:
“If you need the aid of a government organization before/while you’re pregnant, you probably shouldn’t have a child in the first place. For the child’s sake of course.”
Familiar rhetoric predicated on an insidious misunderstanding of poverty, pregnancy, and, as with most people calling to defund the nation’s largest provider of reproductive health services, Planned Parenthood.
To be clear, Planned Parenthood is not a government organization. It does, however, offer a host of services to people before, during, and after pregnancy, which break down like this:
So when someone brings up the use of “aid” from Planned Parenthood, they are really talking about contraception and birth control, STI/STD testing and treatment, cancer screenings, pap smears, and yes, abortion. Of course, abortion is the service defunders think they are targeting—never mind that 80% of Planned Parenthood patients receive services to prevent unintended pregnancy—but the reality for low-income pregnant people is that abortion already isn’t a choice.
Currently, one–fourth of Medicaid-eligible women who seek an abortion are forced to carry their pregnancy to term due to lack of funding. Conversely, when a low-income mother is actually able to plan her pregnancies, she is more likely to be able to provide for her child. Defunding Planned Parenthood is not for the sake of children, and it certainly is not for the sake of women.
Reproductive justice means that all people should be able to exercise the rights and access the resources they need to thrive and to decide whether, when, and how to have and parent children with dignity and free from coercion. For that to be realized, low-income people must have access to birth control, reproductive healthcare, and abortion—and that means standing with Planned Parenthood.
More so, it means addressing the provision that so many defunders seem to have conveniently and selectively edited out of their memory: the Hyde amendment. When legislators put forth the failed bill to cut off over half a billion dollars in federal funding to Planned Parenthood last week, they forgot those funds could never have been used for abortion services in the first place. That policy needs to change. Withholding Medicaid funding for abortions is discriminatory and it harm’s women’s health.
People can be pregnant and low-income at the same time, and reproductive justice is for them too.