Images courtesy of Ång Cunningham
My first introduction to Planned Parenthood was when I was in the 9th grade. A friend of mine and her longtime boyfriend had been having unprotected sex ever since they got together, and after several reluctant home-pregnancy tests, she found out she was five weeks pregnant. Immediately she freaked out, and told me in confidence that she wanted to weigh out all the options: adoption, parenting, and finally settling on abortion. Sitting on that school bus, it dawned on her that at age sixteen, without health insurance, neither of them could afford to properly take care of a baby. And because she was a minor, the state required one or both of her parents to sign off on her decision to have an abortion. So after having the humiliating experience of telling her traditional Catholic parents that she was pregnant, she decided to take the “Abortion pill” plan, which entailed taking two medicines, mifepristone and misoprostol, during a 48-hour period.
For most women, medication abortion is like an early miscarriage, except more controlled and less invasive than a normal in-clinic procedure, and performed privately in the confines of your own home. With no anesthesia, many women claim the abortion process is more “natural,” feeling more like an actual miscarriage rather than an elective surgical practice. Although my friend went on school leave for a week, she told me the experience was very humanizing and less traumatizing than expected because Planned Parenthood specialists provided her with the best possible care and support. Giving her the proper knowledge she needed for safe sex, without making her feel poorly about her choice, it was clear how staff took their protocols. After her two-week followup, her doctor urged her to come back for a visit after the procedure if any negative emotions or behavioral problems were arising. It’s safe to say that Planned Parenthood comes through when handling one of the hardest decisions in a woman’s life.
So what happens when people start marginalizing the hardest, toughest decision in a woman’s life, that no man will ever make, and slander woman’s rights in the name of imposing bullshit Republican reforms? House Republicans approved a bill to place a one-year moratorium on taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, leaving Congress to vote for or against it’s funding. The re-emergence of this issue was sparked by the release of multiple undercover videos showing P.P. officials offhandedly discussing the sale of fetal tissue from abortions for medical research. The heavily edited videos were released by the anti-abortion activist group Center for Medical Progress. However, after the past congressional hearing, Congress decided to put a six-month hiatus on the issue until presidential elections are over, essentially pushing the prevalent problem aside for more pressing matters.
This wasn’t really about winning the legislation, but rather a competition of who’s right-wing dick is the longest. Republican candidates like Rep. Ted Cruz, who engage in political brinksmanship, are spearheading this fight against P.P. by using the issue as some sort of ideological litmus test for the party. He is galvanizing fundamentalist Christian support through his extremist position, and his willingness to grind the legislative process to a halt over a single issue, as well as, in true McCarthyist style, outing fellow conservatives as insufficiently radical as proved by their lack of support for his theocratic defunding measure. This absurd state of affairs belies how pandering and grandstanding have become the modus operandi of the modern Republican Party, and actual policy analysis is irrelevant. Even Republican candidate Carly Fiona has publicly called for P.P. president Cecile Richards to step down from her job, stating that it has been a political operation for a long time and that her step down would be the “tip of the iceberg” in the fight to illegalize abortion. Essentially, Republican candidates are willing to risk women’s lives just to score some political points.
However, to fundamentally understand the detrimental state in which women are currently placed, you have to acknowledge that women all over the country would not only be left without basic healthcare, but also basic bodily autonomy. It’s generally accepted knowledge now that Planned Parenthood spends next to zero federal dollars on abortions. Abortion only accounts for 3% of P.P.’s services while other services like STD testing/treatment for all genders and Birth Control accounts for as much as 38%. So, when someone votes to defund P.P, they’re not actually fighting to defund abortion, but rather they’re fighting to end affordable healthcare for women across the board. This isn’t just a women’s issue. Men also take to P.P’s many health clinics for sexual health services such as vasectomies, cancer screenings, fertility testing, etc. It is crucial that affordable healthcare stay in reach of low-income families, like my friend’s, because P.P. has proven itself to be paramount in health protection and medical management.
Originally from Korea, Emily Choi is a now longtime Los Angeles resident and FRANK151 contributor. You may recognize her work if you’re searching for trending topics or cultural deconstructions, all from a voice much larger than her frame. Tackling topics on socio-economic policies, cultures, and idiosyncrasies, Choi is here to deliver you the truth without all the runaround and sugar-coated fluff.