Commentary Race

Dear E.W. Jackson: Giving Me Birth Control Access Isn’t the Same as Burning a Cross on My Lawn

Wagatwe Wanjuki

The Republican Virginia Lt. Gov. candidate said Planned Parenthood has been "far more lethal to Black lives than the KKK ever was." How is allowing low-income women of color non-judgmental access to birth control more dangerous than a group of cross-burning terrorists?

When I learned that Virginia Lt. Gov. candidate E.W. Jackson (R) said Planned Parenthood has been “far more lethal to Black lives than the KKK ever was,” my blood boiled. I was shocked that someone could seriously compare an organization that offers legal, life-saving health services to an organization with historical ties to criminal activity responsible for the terrorism, torture, and murder of many innocent people. It was particularly infuriating to me because the statement was not only outlandish and out of touch—it hit close to home.

Many people look back at relationships in their lives and wince at their past choice of romantic partners. For me—and millions of other survivors of partner abuse—I know that remembering relationships with abusers can be particularly painful. Non-abusive relationships can be difficult enough when there are issues such as pregnancy, children, and finances involved. Adding abuse to the equation makes it particularly dangerous; in fact, the leading cause of death of pregnant women is murder by their partner. Years later, I often think about how thankful I am that I never got pregnant during my abusive relationships—thanks to Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood allowed me to have access to affordable (and often free) contraception while I was underemployed and/or a student with a very limited income. It was a place where I could go and be treated like a human being. While I could not control what sort of treatment I may be subjected to in my relationships, I was so happy that I was able to control my own body. During a time when I felt like much of my life was out of control, either because of a dire financial situation or an abusive episode, I was glad that Planned Parenthood let me know that my reproductive choices were under my control.

So I want to ask Jackson and those who support his statement: How, pray tell, is allowing low-income women of color non-judgmental access to birth control more dangerous than a group of terrorists who would burn a cross on my lawn?

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