I am enraged that the Texas legislature decided to cut state funding for Planned Parenthood. As a woman who has been without insurance most of her adult life, PP has always been a source of affordable medical care for me. If I need birth control, UTI treatment or my annual Well Woman Exam, I make an appointment, pay a reasonable fee and see a doctor or nurse practitioner who I know I can trust. I am pro-choice but you know what I’ve never used Planned Parenthood for? An abortion. Guess what, kids? STATE AND FEDERAL FUNDS CANNOT BE USED TO FUND ABORTION. No matter how much money the state of Texas gives to fund Planned Parenthood, 0% of it is used for abortion services. Defunding PP means taking away medical services from women who cannot afford it any other way. I have searched for other clinics that offer women’s health services and they are few and far between – certainly not enough to cover the hundreds of thousands of women across the state who will no longer have access to affordable health care.
Feminist blogger Andrea Grimes conducted her own search of the Dallas area women’s clinics and had a similarly depressing experience. She couldn’t even get most clinics to call her back because they already had such a huge caseload. County and state facilities are already underfunded and overwhelmed. The new breed of pregnancy crisis centers that are springing up are mostly faith based, and while I respect your right to your faith, I really don’t want to be proselytized to while I’m getting a PAP smear. I never had any kind of ideology pushed on me at Planned Parenthood – pro-choice or anti-abortion; Muslim, Christian, Jew or atheist; Republican or Democrat – all are welcome there. “Take care of yourself” is the main message they preach. “Make healthy choices. Know your body.” I guess that’s just too radical for some people.
Guess what else disappears with the funding? The teen clinic. My last job was working with teen parents and you know what most teens don’t have? Money. Resources. Time to sign up for endless wait lists and to call fifteen different clinics trying to set up an exam or get STI testing or birth control. Less access, more pregnancies. Less education, more pregnancies. Less birth control, more pregnancies. More teen pregnancies, more conservative indignation that our tax dollars are going to support these horrible young people who *gasp* have had sex. Never mind that these are the teens who are having their babies instead of abortions – shouldn’t conservatives be holding these young people up on their shoulders and supporting them in any way they can? “You had your baby, so we’ll help you raise it in a great, healthy way.” Nope. No birth control, no education, more condemnation, more judgment, less support. Many of the women I see at the jail were or are young mothers. Many of these women are struggling to keep their heads above water – now they can’t even get healthcare without going to the ER? That’s what I’ll be doing next time I have a UTI.
So why? Why does the state of Texas hate women and children? Why does it feel that women’s health is unimportant, that poor children are not worth supporting and that the Old Testament value of punishment is more important than the New Testament’s message of forgiveness and help? My grandfather was a minister and I was raised with Jesus. I don’t believe that the smirking, judgmental folks who sit in the state legislature bear any relation to the radically peaceful, forgiving, and compassionate Christ I’ve always respected. I’ll be donating some of my last paycheck to Planned Parenthood. If you can afford it, I hope you do too.