Health Systems

Why All the Male Hostility Towards Planned Parenthood and Female Reproductive Health?

Princess Jourdan

Something I’ve been noticing lately since I upped my volume of Facebook postings on the issues of Planned Parenthood and preventative care is the number of my MALE friends who are displaying angry knee-jerk reactions to it.

In light of the all out no-holds-barred attacks on women’s health that we’ve been witnessing lately, I’ve been doing a lot of blogging and posting on Facebook lately about the need for Planned Parenthood and the affordable birth control and gynecological exams that it provides to women who are unable to see a regular doctor. When I was Miss Illinois, reproductive health care was my platform issue.  I put many years of study into the subject, I consider myself somewhat of an expert on the subject, and I still feel very strongly about it even though I am no longer reigning.  I still get a lot of fulfillment and purpose from trying to inform and educate my peers on the issue by providing data, my own personal experiences, and alerting them to any new and shocking developments in the media concerning their rights to reproductive health and choices.

Something I’ve been noticing lately since I upped my volume of Facebook postings on the issues of Planned Parenthood and preventative care is the number of my MALE friends who are displaying angry knee-jerk reactions to it. Many of them who are usually pleasant to me any other time have suddenly begun responding with nasty remarks such as “Well maybe women should just be more responsible instead of relying on the government to take care of them” or “I don’t want my tax dollars paying for other people’s abortions” or “We don’t need Planned Parenthood when you can just go see a real doctor” or “You’re making a big deal out of nothing.”  Interestingly, it’s never any of my female friends and acquaintances who make these remarks (probably because they know better from their own personal experiences).  So I have to wonder, why such the hostility towards women’s health issues from men who never have to experience having a Pap smear, using birth control, or having an abortion??  Where do they get off scoffing at an issue that they obviously know nothing about and that has nothing to do with them??  My biggest guess is that this mostly stems from plain old ignorance and an unwillingness to try to understand the day-to-day issues and experiences that only women deal with.  These guys do not have to see a doctor for routine penis/testicle exams every year, use hormonal medication to prevent pregnancy every single day, or worry about getting pregnant.  Therefore, they live in a world of blissful ignorance that allows them to ignore and scoff at the health issues that we women must deal with on a daily basis and does not demand that they step out of their own shoes and try to understand something that is outside of their realm.

Before I had the luxury of having a job that provided me with full health insurance coverage, I went through many years uninsured and unable to afford to see my regular gynecologist.  I was working my way through college and earning very little money.  In order receive the BASIC health care that I needed as a woman, my only option was to turn to Planned Parenthood.  They provided me with the simple yearly pelvic and breast exams and my monthly supplies of birth control at a very affordable cost.  When I discovered my first ovarian cyst at age 22, Planned Parenthood performed the necessary ultrasound to locate the cyst and provided me with hormonal medication to dissolve it.  Had I not been able to utilize these vital services at Planned Parenthood, I would have had to suffer in pain from those cysts and let them grow bigger.  And yes, when I had a slip-up like countless other women have had and unexpectedly became pregnant, I went to another Planned Parenthood clinic to obtain an abortion (that I paid for in cash with MY OWN money, NOT anyone else’s tax dollars!).  I, like millions of other young women, was just a normal, hard-working, up-and-coming woman with little or no health insurance who didn’t have the big bucks to spend to see a regular gynecologist for my basic health upkeep.  In what way does that make me a “hooker”, a “slut”, “irresponsible”, “lazy”, or a “drain on our system”??  Thank God I am no longer in that situation of being underemployed and uninsured and that I now have the privilege of accessing good medical care.  But every other female who is in the position that I once was in deserves the same affordable care that I received when I went to Planned Parenthood, and THAT is why I have been so vocal about the attacks on Planned Parenthood as of recent.  And I get extremely insulted and disgusted when I hear MEN scoffing at this!!

I have a burning question that just entered into my mind:  These men scoff at our need for affordable access to birth control.  Yet many of these guys have girlfriends (or a string of one-night-stands) that they have sex with regularly.  And their first question to the girl is usually “Are you on birth control?”  because many of them do not want to become a father before they are good and ready.  Soooo….WHERE DO THEY THINK OUR BIRTH CONTROL COMES FROM?!?  Don’t shoot down the source that provides your ladies with the birth control that keeps you from becoming daddies over and over again, fellas!  Oh and another thing…to all you men who bitch and moan about how you don’t want YOUR tax dollars paying for OUR abortions (which they don’t), well WE don’t want OUR tax dollars paying for YOUR Viagra, Cialis, and penis pumps!!  But none of us get to pick and choose what our tax dollars do and don’t pay for.  So buck up and get over it already.

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News Politics

Anti-Choice Democrats: ‘Open The Big Tent’ for Us

Christine Grimaldi & Ally Boguhn

“Make room for pro-life Democrats and invite pro-life, progressive independents back to the party to focus on the right to parent and ways to help women in crisis or unplanned pregnancies have more choices than abortion,” the group said in a report unveiled to allies at the event, including Democratic National Convention (DNC) delegates and the press.

Democrats for Life of America gathered Wednesday in Philadelphia during the party’s convention to honor Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) for his anti-choice viewpoints, and to strategize ways to incorporate their policies into the party.

The group attributed Democratic losses at the state and federal level to the party’s increasing embrace of pro-choice politics. The best way for Democrats to reclaim seats in state houses, governors’ offices, and the U.S. Congress, they charged, is to “open the big tent” to candidates who oppose legal abortion care.

“Make room for pro-life Democrats and invite pro-life, progressive independents back to the party to focus on the right to parent and ways to help women in crisis or unplanned pregnancies have more choices than abortion,” the group said in a report unveiled to allies at the event, including Democratic National Convention (DNC) delegates and the press.

Democrats for Life of America members repeatedly attempted to distance themselves from Republicans, reiterating their support for policies such as Medicaid expansion and paid maternity leave, which they believe could convince people to carry their pregnancies to term.

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Their strategy, however, could have been lifted directly from conservatives’ anti-choice playbook.

The group relies, in part, on data from Marist, a group associated with anti-choice polling, to suggest that many in the party side with them on abortion rights. Executive Director Kristen Day could not explain to Rewire why the group supports a 20-week abortion ban, while Janet Robert, president of the group’s board of directors, trotted out scientifically false claims about fetal pain

Day told Rewire that she is working with pro-choice Democrats, including Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, both from New York, on paid maternity leave. Day said she met with DeLauro the day before the group’s event.

Day identifies with Democrats despite a platform that for the first time embraces the repeal of restrictions for federal funding of abortion care. 

“Those are my people,” she said.

Day claimed to have been “kicked out of the pro-life movement” for supporting the Affordable Care Act. She said Democrats for Life of America is “not opposed to contraception,” though the group filed an amicus brief in U.S. Supreme Court cases on contraception. 

Democrats for Life of America says it has important allies in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. Sens. Joe Donnelly (IN), Joe Manchin (WV), and Rep. Dan Lipinski (IL), along with former Rep. Bart Stupak (MI), serve on the group’s board of advisors, according to literature distributed at the convention.

Another alleged ally, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), came up during Edwards’ speech. Edwards said he had discussed the award, named for Casey’s father, former Pennsylvania Gov. Robert P. Casey, the defendant in the landmark Supreme Court decision, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which opened up a flood of state-level abortions restrictions as long as those anti-choice policies did not represent an “undue burden.”

“Last night I happened to have the opportunity to speak to Sen. Bob Casey, and I told him … I was in Philadelphia, receiving this award today named after his father,” Edwards said.

The Louisiana governor added that though it may not seem it, there are many more anti-choice Democrats like the two of them who aren’t comfortable coming forward about their views.

“I’m telling you there are many more people out there like us than you might imagine,” Edwards said. “But sometimes it’s easier for those folks who feel like we do on these issues to remain silent because they’re not going to  be questioned, and they’re not going to be receiving any criticism.”

During his speech, Edwards touted the way he has put his views as an anti-choice Democrat into practice in his home state. “I am a proud Democrat, and I am also very proudly pro-life,” Edwards told the small gathering.

Citing his support for Medicaid expansion in Louisiana—which went into effect July 1—Edwards claimed he had run on an otherwise “progressive” platform except for when it came to abortion rights, adding that his policies demonstrate that “there is a difference between being anti-abortion and being pro-life.”

Edwards later made clear that he was disappointed with news that Emily’s List President Stephanie Schriock, whose organization works to elect pro-choice women to office, was being considered to fill the position of party chair in light of Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s resignation.

“It wouldn’t” help elect anti-choice politicians to office, said Edwards when asked about it by a reporter. “I don’t want to be overly critical, I don’t know the person, I just know that the signal that would send to the country—and to Democrats such as myself—would just be another step in the opposite direction of being a big tent party [on abortion].” 

Edwards made no secret of his anti-choice viewpoints during his run for governor in 2015. While on the campaign trail, he released a 30-second ad highlighting his wife’s decision not to terminate her pregnancy after a doctor told the couple their daughter would have spina bifida.

He received a 100 percent rating from anti-choice organization Louisiana Right to Life while running for governor, based off a scorecard asking him questions such as, “Do you support the reversal of Roe v. Wade?”

Though the Democratic Party platform and nominee have voiced the party’s support for abortion rights, Edwards has forged ahead with signing numerous pieces of anti-choice legislation into law, including a ban on the commonly used dilation and evacuation (D and E) procedure, and an extension of the state’s abortion care waiting period from 24 hours to 72 hours.

News Politics

NARAL President Tells Her Abortion Story at the Democratic National Convention

Ally Boguhn

Though reproductive rights and health have been discussed by both Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) while on the campaign trail, Democrats have come under fire for failing to ask about abortion care during the party’s debates.

Read more of our coverage of the Democratic National Convention here.

Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, told the story of her abortion on the stage of the Democratic National Convention (DNC) Wednesday evening in Philadelphia.

“Texas women are tough. We approach challenges with clear eyes and full hearts. To succeed in life, all we need are the tools, the trust, and the chance to chart our own path,” Hogue told the crowd on the third night of the party’s convention. “I was fortunate enough to have these things when I found out I was pregnant years ago. I wanted a family, but it was the wrong time.”

“I made the decision that was best for me — to have an abortion — and to get compassionate care at a clinic in my own community,” she continued. “Now, years later, my husband and I are parents to two incredible children.”

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Hogue noted that her experience is similar to those of women nationwide.

“About one in three American women have abortions by the age of 45, and the majority are mothers just trying to take care of the families they already have,” she said. “You see, it’s not as simple as bad girls get abortions and good girls have families. We are the same women at different times in our lives — each making decisions that are the best for us.”

As reported by Yahoo News, “Asked if she was the first to have spoken at a Democratic National Convention about having had an abortion for reasons other than a medical crisis, Hogue replied, ‘As far as I know.'”

Planned Parenthood Federation of America President Cecile Richards on Tuesday night was the first speaker at the DNC in Philadelphia to say the word “abortion” on stage, according to Vox’s Emily Crockett. 

Richards’ use of the word abortion was deliberate, and saying the word helps address the stigma that surrounds it, Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s Vice President of Communication Mary Alice Carter said in an interview with ThinkProgress. 

“When we talk about reproductive health, we talk about the full range of reproductive health, and that includes access to abortion. So we’re very deliberate in saying we stand up for a woman’s right to access an abortion,” Carter said.

“There is so much stigma around abortion and so many people that sit in shame and don’t talk about their abortion, and so it’s very important to have the head of Planned Parenthood say ‘abortion,’ it’s very important for any woman who’s had an abortion to say ‘abortion,’ and it’s important for us to start sharing those stories and start bringing it out of the shadows and recognizing that it’s a normal experience,” she added.

Though reproductive rights and health have been discussed by both Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) while on the campaign trail, Democrats have come under fire for failing to ask about abortion care during the party’s debates. In April, Clinton called out moderators for failing to ask “about a woman’s right to make her own decisions about reproductive health care” over the course of eight debates—though she did not use the term abortion in her condemnation.