On Friday the Republican led House voted to cut all federal funding for Planned Parenthood. While the organization most notably provides abortions (which cannot be federally funded), they also offer men and women’s general and sexual health care on a sliding scale.
Most women I know, myself included, have relied on Planned Parenthood as their sole health care provider at one point in their lives. For many women Planned Parenthood is the only health care they’ll ever receive. In fact, one in five American women have received services at a Planned Parenthood clinic.
Planned Parenthood does offer comprehensive health care to all women regardless of their ability to pay. But they also have a sordid history that is still at play today.
As Glenn Beck is not shy to remind us, Planned Parenthood founder, Margaret Sanger was a proponent of eugenics. Sarah G. Epstein, who sits on the national board of the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR), a designated hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, also serves on Planned Parenthood’s board in Washington D.C. Epstein also serves on the Pathfinder International board founded by eugenics financier, Clarence Gamble, her father. Disgusted yet?
If Planned Parenthood were only one of a number of clinics and healthcare providers that reached out to women in an accessible and affordable way, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.
The fact that Planned Parenthood is often the sole provider of comprehensive women’s health care in our communities means they don’t have to be accountable to the women who need their services. It also means there are few organizations standing strong with Planned Parenthood to fight these budget cuts.
Where are the national women’s rights organizations like the National Organization for Women (NOW)? NOW president Terry O’Neill has been mostly silent on the issue but she did talk to the Huffington Post. “The men in the black dresses — the guys who like to dress up in the black robes, and I’m talking about the Catholic bishops — have been doing this for decades. Their goal is to deprive women of reproductive health care services generally. Their strategy is to go after abortion first, contraception second,” she said.
That seems to be the M.O of pro-choice and women’s rights groups lately. “Oh here they go again, trying to chip away at our reproductive health care rights.” Well, I have news for O’Neill and her democratic colleagues. They have chipped away at our reproductive rights, and they aren’t going to stop. It’s time for to stop playing defense and organize a real network of women’s health care providers to stand up to the onslaught of budget cuts, bad publicity, and anti-choice measures that are sure to come our way.