Deep dark confessions #287298127241: I used to be a registered Republican. I was, I will even admit, an officer in my high school’s Young Republicans club. (It's probably worth noting there was no Young Democrats club.)
One of the most fundamental lessons I've ever learned about seeing other people's political points of view came out of something called Red and Black Bowling. Run by our local Communist party leader, Red and Black Bowling was a social outing for political radicals. I have no memory of how I wound up hanging out with these guys -- Communists, Socialists and an animal liberation activist who was involved in... liberating lab animals -- but I bowled with them on a regular basis for about a year, back when I was 18.
They always made me bowl in the right lane.
While we bowled, we talked -- about politics, sure. But also about our lives and our beliefs and our hopes and our plans. We talked the way college students in their early 20s always talk in philosophical movies. But we weren't all in college, nor were we all in our early 20s. Because individual people are not stereotypes.
And that was really the lesson -- none of us were stereotypes. We all had our priorities, and we all cared about other people.
Perhaps you’ve heard of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Even if the name isn’t ringing any bells, if you’ve seen any of that oh-so-popular pink-beribboned merch then you’ve seen the fruits of Komen’s labors.
Komen is the largest breast cancer charity in the US. They’ve invested nearly 2 billion dollars in breast cancer research (and education too) since their founding in 1982.
And they’ve just pulled the funding they’ve been providing to Planned Parenthood, caving -- yes, I’m calling it caving -- in to pressure from, well, I'm going to call this like I see it as well, the religious Right.
Because of the lessons I learned during Red and Black Bowling, I've always been really reluctant to engage in bashing "conservatives" -- it's such a blanket label. And I do believe that most people, yes, even most conservative people, want to do what they think is best for our country and our culture. (There are dickheads everywhere, of course, of every political stripe.)
But I'm having a super hard time with this. Because Komen pulling their funding of Planned Parenthood, while perfectly legal for a private organization, is kind of shady. And more than it being shady for political reasons...
It's actively harming female-bodied people.
It feels like another volley in a war on female-bodied people.
The need for safe and affordable abortion is, to me, pretty plain. And no matter what my political affiliation has been, I've always been pro-choice. Because imposing my beliefs on other people seems wrong.
But the campaign against Planned Parenthood has moved so far beyond the typical abortion debate, I can hardly find coherence.
Almost 40,000 women die of breast cancer each year in the U.S.
Planned Parenthood, while painted as little more than a one-stop-vacuum-your-fetus-shop by the religious Right, is our nation's leading provider of sexual and reproductive health care. They provide education, testing, preventive screenings, low-cost birth control and a host of other services that fall under the umbrella of "women's health care."
Roughly two-thirds of their patients are low income. They serve at-risk populations -- including counseling and treatment for trans people, who often have a hell of a time finding safe and respectful medical treatment. When you aren't safe (which can happen to so many people with uteruses -- and without), taking care of your health can be challenging. Planned Parenthood helps.
It's not surprising that Komen is pulling its funding, not when you consider the stated goals of the new Senior Vice President of Public Policy, Karen Handel. She's got a long history of being anti-choice, and has built her political platform, in part, on stripping funding from Planned Parenthood.
But it's still shocking to me. Because this battle over abortion is hurting people -- the very same people Komen was created to help. Thousands of women turn to Planned Parenthood for mammogram referrals -- not to mention education and guidance regarding breast self-exams.
Komen says, on their website, that they're working to save lives, empower people, ensure quality care for all, and energize science to find the cures. But that "for all"... Apparently that doesn't apply to low-income, at-risk populations -- or any of the other people who use Planned Parenthood as their primary health care provider. Apparently, saving lives is secondary to injuring the safe abortion supply train.
I've got a lot of faith in people, a lot of belief that others really are working toward what they think is right, even when it doesn't agree with my own views. I don't think all conservatives (and/or religious people) are out to get anyone. But this has shaken that belief, in a really fundamental way. It makes me angry and it depresses the hell out of me, y'all.
Mostly it makes me afraid for all of the people I care about who used Planned Parenthood services. It makes me afraid for the people I don't even know who need Planned Parenthood services. It makes me afraid for me, a little bit, because these sorts of things pick up momentum and who knows where they'll stop.
I hope that you, regardless of political outlook, have access to safe and respectful health care. I hope you feel comfortable enough to turn to professionals for education and help regarding the health of your sexual and reproductive health, regardless of gender. I have a lot of hope, still.