Written by Sarah Orttung and Nathalie Camens
Drawing by Chloé Mauvais
On November 27, Robert Lewis Dear opened fire on a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colorado, killing three people and injuring nine. The Colorado Springs shooting is only the latest in a long history of anti-abortion attacks. According to CNN, abortion clinics in the United States have endured over 1,500 acts of vandalism, 400 death threats, and 200 bombings and arson attacks since 1977. For a social and political movement that has labeled itself pro-life, it is curious that it has caused so many human deaths. Some of those who take part in the pro-life movement are hypocritical, as they are so eager to save the future lives of non-sentient fetuses that they would end the lives of sentient adults.
Contrary to popular belief, only three percent of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortions. STI/STD testing and treatment make up 42 percent of Planned Parenthood’s medical services and cancer screenings and prevention make up nine percent. Planned Parenthood provides affordable health care for lower class citizens; those who oppose Planned Parenthood are in effect supporting classist ideas, preventing low-income citizens from access to necessary health care.
The Republican party repeatedly demonizes Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood’s president, Cecile Richards, called out Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz at her testimony to the congressional committee when Chaffetz showed a deceitful graph that skewed data and caused it to appear as though the number of cancer screenings performed was far below that of abortions. This is false, and Richards pointed out that the graph came from Americans United for Life, an anti-abortion organization, instead of an unbiased source. This is how pro-lifers advocate against Planned Parenthood, often using misinformation that they do not research or fact check and spreading ideas that are based in lies.
According to WebMD, over half of pregnancies are unexpected, and many of these women do not have the money to carry a fetus to term, much less raise a child. By providing abortion and birth control services, Planned Parenthood is granting women the right to have sex without fear of having to carry out a pregnancy. This is a right that men naturally inherit. In order to carry out a healthy pregnancy, the average woman without health insurance pays around $2,000 in prenatal vitamins and doctor’s appointments. At the end of the pregnancy, women are forced to pay outrageous amounts to give birth in a hospital. In 2008, a vaginal birth without complications cost $9,600 while an uncomplicated cesarean section costs $15,800. Although Medicaid and private insurance plans include almost all pregnancy-related health care costs, women with individual health care plans often find that all maternity care is excluded, and are forced to pay out of pocket. In total, women can pay over $17,000 to carry out a pregnancy, before even considering baby clothes, diapers, a crib, a changing table, a car seat, daycare, school tuitions and the countless other expenses she would come across should the woman choose to raise her child. By providing abortion services, Planned Parenthood allows women to consider a safe option that will save her large amounts of money that she may not have.
Many for the pro-life activists shame people who go to Planned Parenthood. These picketers and the rest of the pro-life movement seek to make abortions illegal, however many do not fully understand the consequences that this legislation could cause. According to Our Bodies, Ourselves, tighter abortion laws are not associated with lower abortion rates, and people simply turn to unsanitary and unsafe methods of terminating pregnancies. Many people are forced to make appointments with doctors who do not possess the necessary skills or knowledge to perform such a procedure. Others attempt to perform abortions on themselves, by inserting knitting needles or coat hangers into the uterus or swallowing harsh chemicals. Before the 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court case legalized abortion in the United States, thousands every year suffered from the consequences of unsafe abortions, including chronic pain and illness, infertility, and death.
Young people’s lives can be ruined by an unwanted pregnancy. Pregnancy can make it hard for people in high school to finish their education. It can also derail their life if they are not given access to abortion clinics and cause them to face discrimination from their peers. Teens are usually not financially stable, which makes it difficult for them to carry out a pregnancy. Teen pregnancies can cause health hazards to the child and the mother. Planned Parenthood and other abortion clinics enable teens to access birth control options and abortions without their parents’ consent. This independence is key and allows teenagers to take responsibility for their own bodies.
People who actively work against safe reproductive healthcare contribute to anti-feminist and classist ideologies. We should support the government funding of Planned Parenthood to allow safe access to reproductive health care for everyone.