As a 28 year old graduate student I spent time in Hong Kong as a legal advocate for Filipina domestic workers. The majority of them, younger than I and with multiple children, were separated from their families for years in order to support them. When I read about sparing the Catholic Church a “crisis of conscience” I wonder when they will suffer one for their part in contributing to the poverty of Catholic developing countries where there is no access to birth control. I find it disingenuous to laud their work with the sick and the poor when their stance on contraception promotes poverty in the developing world.
99% of women in the United States have used some method of birth control. 98% of Catholic women in the United States use birth control. This isn’t about a government mandate that goes too far but rather about an archaic, impractical policy on the part of a church whose leadership is comprised of men who have never had to navigate the complexities of marriage and family life. It’s time for the Catholic church to enter the 21st century and amend its damaging stance on contraception.
Let’s dispense here and now with this silly fiction that we live in a representative Democracy. Rather, we live in a country which is run by an elite cadre of mostly white men, one of whom, Steve King, has characterized Planned Parenthood as “ghastly and ghoulish.” The incident he cites, that of someone acting like a “pimp” and seeking advice concerning his “girls” to incriminate Planned Parenthood is baseless. The offending counselor was fired and Planned Parenthood promptly called the police – a far cry from engaging in and condoning behavior that was subsequently covered up. And yet King uses this incident in a bid to link them with illegal immigration and “child prostitution” for political leverage when the heart of these issues couldn’t be further from an organization like Planned Parenthood. In addition, none of the federal money Planned Parenthood receives goes to funding abortions.
I have thought about whether I should attach my name to this and while I am wary about doing so it gives a measure of credibility. I’d also like to think that I live in a society that will not penalize me for this, however much I know that it is untrue. I want to know how many men who voted to defund Planned Parenthood took it upon themselves to speak to those of us who have taken advantage of Planned Parenthood’s services. I want to know how many of them sought to get a balanced perspective, rather than choose to continue this sickening vendetta.
Having been brought up in a rather extreme Christian household, Planned Parenthood was the first supportive environment I encountered where I could talk to someone about sex. It was the first environment where knowledgeable adults expressed true care and concern for my sexual well being, the first place I could open up and put my issues with sexuality on the table. I was 24 years old and I was terrified. It began an incredible healing process for me, and I feel truly devoted to the organization given the help I received from their staff. In addition, it is where I went for years to get birth control so that I could prevent the need to get an abortion. Planned Parenthood allowed me to make responsible decisions about my future without the shaming, unnatural dogma of abstinence education.
And even with the incredible testimony of Jackie Speier illustrating that perhaps not all Democrats are spineless sell outs, the vote to defund still passed. This all out vendetta against reproductive services for women is becoming less and less about abortion and more about women’s sexual freedom. And somehow I doubt her speech, nor the words of any of us will matter as illustrated by the House vote. Male lawmakers will continue to boil the debate down to abstractions, accusing women of being “cavalier” in the choice to abort while at the same time blowing off the very real issue of women’s health (Remember McCain’s air quotes?) and such situations as rape, incest, and the inability to truly care financially for a child.
I’ll be watching what the Senate does with bated breath.