When I was probably about 7 or 8 years old, my mom took me to a Democratic rally of some sort – I think it was a fundraiser for a candidate running for State Representative. I got to meet John Kerry and tell him that I wished I was old enough to vote, because I wanted to vote for him. (A 7 year old telling a future Secretary of State that she wanted to vote for him…? It’s no wonder I turned out the way I did. Thanks, Mom.)
Anyway, as we were leaving, there was a family standing outside the house where the event was being held. They were holding up a giant poster – probably at least 5 ft. tall – with a photo of a dismembered fetus on it.
They were shouting, “ABORTION IS MURDER!” as we walked past.
“Thanks a lot, you guys,” my mom snapped. “I’ve got my kid with me.”
“Oh, we have our children with us too,” the woman replied, gesturing to her children behind her. One of them looked to be about 4 years old. They were each holding up signs with various anti-choice slogans written on them.
“And they’re going to be seriously disturbed because of that,” my mom called behind her as we hurried away from them.
When we got back to the car, my mom had to explain to me what I saw. I asked her why the baby was dead, and why someone would kill their own baby.
She couldn’t possibly explain the complexity of the concept of abortion to such a young child, but she did her best.
I remember that day very clearly, and not because I met multiple influential politicians. This happened more than a decade ago, and if I close my eyes, I can still see the picture of that fetus very clearly.
More than ten years later, I proudly identify as pro-life. Which is why you can imagine watching the most recent debate was so frustrating for me.
I’d like to start by first and foremost touching on the topic of Planned Parenthood.
I have absolutely no patience for conversing with individuals who support defunding Planned Parenthood. To defund Planned Parenthood is to inadvertently say to millions of Americans, “Sorry, but your health doesn’t matter to me.”
Planned Parenthood serves 2.5 million individuals on a yearly basis. That’s more than 2 million people visiting PP for Pap smears, breast exams, STI tests & treatments, and other essential medical procedures and advice.
Oh yeah – and then there’s abortions, which make up a mere 3% of all PP operations. And none of those abortions are funded by the United States Government.
Of course, there are people who think that the 3% stat is a lie, and that we should therefore defund PP all together.
I, for one, am sick of this whole “what you’re saying doesn’t align with what I want to hear so I’m going to accuse you of lying” mindset, which is championed by Mr. Donald J. Trump himself.
Often times, Planned Parenthood is the only facility available for low-income individuals. In other words, many of the clients of Planned Parenthood would not be able to afford or obtain the health services they need without PP.
So what would happen if Planned Parenthood didn’t exist?
Just look at Texas: after the government stopped funding PP, birth rates among women living in poverty spiked. That’s what happens when you take away peoples’ access to contraception – they have babies.
Not only would cutting spending of PP take a toll on millions of Americans, but it would also cost the U.S. an estimated additional $130 million over the span of 10 years. So if you don’t care about the thousands of lives that will be affected by going through with defunding PP, think of it this way: it’s going to cost us – literally.
Let’s take a step back, though, and look at the fundamentals of debating the issue of women’s health.
When white, cisgender, male politicians make decisions about women’s health, they’re speaking on behalf of a group of people on a topic in which they have absolutely no experience.
Donald Trump, for instance, does not understand women’s health the way women do.
Imagine that you’re standing in the shower, washing yourself with a bar of soap, when you feel a lump on your breast that wasn’t there last week. Your remember that your aunt had breast cancer. What do you do?
Maybe you have $5.03 in your checking account, but you’re about to start your period, and tampons cost $7/box. What do you do?
Maybe you’re in your thirties, expecting your first child, and you wake up in the morning to blood-soaked sheets and piercing cramps in your lower abdomen. What do you do?
Maybe you’re sexually active, but your health insurance doesn’t cover birth control, and you really really cannot afford to get pregnant right now, because you just graduated from college and you’re in a ton of debt, and you’re only making $8.75/hr., but you’re still a hormonal human being who wants to have sex. What do you do?
Donald Trump doesn’t know what to do in any of these situations. He’s never had to face any of them. But he’s still going to try and dictate what you can and can’t do with your body, and that’s just not right.
My vagina isn’t the government’s property. Stop talking about it like it is.
A lot of things said during the conversations about women’s health are completely misguided. Donald Trump’s statements about late-term abortion are just another example of this.
Abortions are a very personal, painful topic. But stating that women utilize late-term abortions to simply get rid of an unwanted child demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding for the need for late-term abortions – which, by the way, are incredibly rare (only about 1% of abortions occur past the 20th week of pregnancy).
This may surprise you, but many of the stories that these women have shared don’t involve them suddenly deciding a week before their due dates that they don’t feel like having a baby anymore.
Are there people who abuse late-term abortions, and don’t carry their babies to term for reasons that could be considered selfish? Probably. It pains me to think of this. But there are always exceptions – and the idea that late-term abortions should be outlawed because there are women out there who utilize late-term abortions for the “wrong reasons” is not right.
Forcing women to give birth to a baby doesn’t make you “pro-life”; it makes you pro-birth. Taking away the opportunity for women to decide for themselves if they should give birth when you don’t understand their situation doesn’t make you “pro-life”; it makes you anti-choice.
If you truly are pro-life, vote for Hillary Clinton.
I’d like to lastly reiterate how sensitive and hard the topic of abortion is. I personally can’t see a situation in which I would ever even consider having an abortion, but I know that I can’t decide that other people shouldn’t have the choice.
It scares me to see so many people voicing support for cutting resources that would both prevent unwanted pregnancies, and help support people who have children but are living in poverty (*cough* Planned Parenthood), while simultaneously taking away the option to terminate pregnancies.
When I hear Donald Trump speak about abortions and Planned Parenthood, here’s what I hear: “I’m not going to help you avoid getting pregnant. If you get pregnant, I want you to have that baby, dammit. You don’t get any say in whether or not you give birth to the child. I’m also not going to help you support that child once you give birth to it, because I really only care about it while it’s in the womb. Once it’s out, that’s your problem. You’re basically fucked.”
If Donald Trump had his way, I wouldn’t have any control over my own body.
My health is important. I’m tired of listening to people’s opinions on how much attention and resources my health deserves.
If I could go back in time and speak to the people holding those awful anti-choice signs, I would say, “You do realize you’re diminishing a hugely complex issue by standing here and protesting this shit, right? Also, joke’s on you, because in 10 years, I’ll become one of the loudest pro-choice advocates you’ll ever met. It looks like your little sign didn’t scare me into supporting your anti-choice agenda after all.”
See you on November 8th, Donald.