Over three years ago, my friend Taylor Kuether wrote this editorial in her school paper about signs she saw at a pro-life rally that read “Defund Planned Parenthood.” Unfortunately, it’s 2015 and Republicans in Congress are now threatening to shutdown the government in order to do just that. It’s disgraceful that women’s health services are such a point of contention in America. Since when did body autonomy become a political issue? In honor of Planned Parenthood’s #PinkOut Day, this piece is being republished on The Feminist Feline to show just how grave of a situation women’s health is in in America.
Last week marked the 39th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court’s highly controversial ruling in Roe v. Wade, in which abortion was made permissible with a few stipulations including protecting prenatal life, protecting women’s health, and regulating the trimester in which abortions could be carried out.
Yearly, thousands participate in the “March for Life” protest in Washington, D.C. on the anniversary of the famous ruling. This year, when glancing over photos from the event, one sign caught my eye: “Defund Planned Parenthood.”
I saw similar signs last summer as I drove down Menomonie Street right here in Eau Claire. A group of about a dozen elderly gentlemen were standing quietly on the sidewalk outside Eau Claire’s Planned Parenthood center, each holding a homemade sign protesting the clinic.
I remember growing warm with anger as I passed, upset not only by the fact that these men had no right to tell women what they can and cannot do with their bodies, but by the fact that Planned Parenthood is not simply an abortion clinic, rendering their signs useless and poorly directed.
Allow me to reiterate: Planned Parenthood does not just perform abortions.
Now allow me to provide a brief list of the services that Planned Parenthood does provide: breast and pelvic exams, pap tests, UTI and yeast infection treatments, help with body image, emergency contraception, and general health care, to name a few.
Note that abortion does not make up the complete list. Misinformation like this only breeds ignorance to the incredible amount of good that Planned Parenthood provides. When you protest Planned Parenthood, you are protesting women’s health. If you want your country to be strong, vital and ultimately prosperous, you absolutely cannot bar its citizens from necessary healthcare.
Diversity of opinion is necessary to maintain a non-dictatorial government, but to put it in trite, oversimplified terms, if you do not support abortion, do not get an abortion. Do not, instead, sabotage clinics and agencies that aid and protect women.
The abortion argument is exhausting; women’s bodies should not fall under government property and therefore should not be subject to state or federal jurisdiction. My body is not the property of the U.S. government. If I wanted to pierce my ears, I am legally able to do so. If I want to get a tattoo, no law will prevent me from doing so. Why, then, am I not allowed to do what I want with my own uterus?
I’m familiar with the argument: it’s not just about the owner of the uterus, but of the potential child living in said uterus.
The subject of personhood is better left to philosophy courses’ endless debate, but I will say this: Personhood is not a continuum on which religious groups and government organizations can plot an arbitrary point, declaring that moment the moment in which the fertilized egg becomes a “person.” One can hardly argue that a child is a child from the moment of conception, a time at which it is in actuality little more than a clump of cells.
We can’t get so wrapped up in the well-being of a fetus that we forget about the well-being of the woman carrying it.
The abortion debate is now among the largest points of contention when deciding along which party lines to vote, which begs the question: whatever happened to the separation of church and state, that little phrase coined by Thomas Jefferson in his 1802 letter to the Danbury Baptist Church?
In a longer form, it’s in a little ol’ block of text called the First Amendment, stated simply as “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”
But that text seems long forgotten as right-wing politicians base their entire platforms on the few minute issues that religious voters will agree with, garnering followers and polarizing the country into two distinct spheres. Abortion rights are one of these issues, with gay marriage being the other, but that’s a whole different editorial.
Back to my point: when you are arguing against Planned Parenthood and even against abortion, you are arguing against women’s health. If I do not have control over my own body, what do I have control over?
*Originally published in Spectator News*
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Taylor Kuether is a proud Wisconsin native living and working in Washington, D.C. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire with a degree in journalism, she has written for The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Star Tribune, Stop Street Harassment, Generation Progress, and more. She is currently Communications Coordinator at the Society for Women’s Health Research. Check out her portfolio here, and follow her on Twitter for musings and photos of her own sweet Feminist Feline, Emma.