I try not to blog-rant very often – but this afternoon I can’t help myself. The announcement about Susan G. Komen For the Cure halting funding for breast cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood pushed me right over the edge.
You see, not all that many years ago, Planned Parenthood could have saved my life.
Between student loans, a starting youth ministry salary and a few other medical debts, I was cash poor. What’s more, I was underinsured – my health insurance provider treated womanhood as a preexisting condition and wasn’t much help when it came to gynecological screenings and other services. So, rather than finding a health care provider I couldn’t afford to pay, I went to Planned Parenthood.
Over the course of four years, PP was my provider and resource for women’s health. I didn’t “freeload” – their sliding payment scale made it possible for me to pay what I could. I paid more than some women, and less than others. In a sense, we were all in it together.
I didn’t get an abortion as a Planned Parenthood client. I suppose I could have if I’d had and felt the need, but that isn’t the point. The point is that I got the care I needed. Because I could afford it, I scheduled those necessary yearly appointments. I actually showed up for annual screenings instead of ignoring the reminder cards that arrived in my mailbox. And, when one of those annual exams indicated the possibility of cervical cancer – I was able to afford the colposcopy that let me know the abnormal cells were benign.
If it had been cancer, and I hadn’t had Planned Parenthood, I wouldn’t have known until it was too late.
When I look at the news and see the attacks made on Planned Parenthood by some politicians and religious leaders, the demands that Planned Parenthood lose all of its funding because 3% of their budget goes towards abortions – when I see these things it literally makes me sick to my stomach.
The cancer screenings, STI screenings and treatment, family planning services (including contraception) and other women’s health care – all of that should be thrown away (along with the women and men whose health and lives depend upon it) because of one issue? I don’t think so.
Regardless of your stance on abortion, you should care about the consequences of this sort of defunding. Regardless of your stance on abortion, you should care that people who live at, below or near the poverty line will be hardest hit by this. In the end, this is not about abortion. This is about a callous disregard for the lives of men and women who have no access to the top of the line health care that policymakers seem to take for granted – and it is unacceptable.
If policymakers really want to take down Planned Parenthood, if they are truly hell bent upon it – then they had better be prepared to create and fund other avenues for acquiring low-cost and free women’s healthcare. Those avenues had better be prepared to accept ALL of the people who currently rely upon Planned Parenthood, and then some. And they had better do it BEFORE they hamstring what is already in place.
If they don’t – if we don’t – people will fall through the cracks. Cancer will go undetected. STI rates and unplanned pregnancy rates will increase – and there will be even more women in search of the abortions we tried to eradicate. People will die – and their blood will be on our hands.
I’m not willing to see that happen. And I’m not willing to tear down an organization that has helped millions of women and men (including me) to be healthy, educated and whole. So I’m ranting about it, but I’ll also be writing letters and helping to educate others about the need for quality affordable community healthcare.
What will you do?