by Doctor Science
I didn't post about The Great Komen Foundation vs. Planned Parenthood Clash of the Titans last week, mostly because D & I both had viral gastroenteritis. It was vile, but at least the kids didn't get it.
One thing that made me laugh incredulously:
"Politics have no place in health care," Bloomberg said in a statement on Thursday. "Breast cancer screening saves lives and hundreds of thousands of women rely on Planned Parenthood for access to care. We should be helping women access that care, not placing barriers in their way."Excuse me, Mister Mayor, are you new?!? It's been *years* since politics had no place in health care -- women's health care, at least. In America there is no apolitical gynecology.
Ta-Nehisi Coates noted that Planned Parenthood has a very deep bench:
I don't think that Handel, or her allies, quite understood the nature of their adversaries. I mentioned this in comments the other day but it's interesting to look at how Planned Parenthood has weathered under targeting from the Right, as compared with other groups. This is not like ACORN. Whatever their significant work in poor communities and black and Latino communities, Planned Parenthood has touched women across race and across class, and thus indirectly, touched men across race and class too.I am one of those women.
I don't have a story as dramatic as many in the Planned Parenthood Saved Me tumblr, but for most of my 20s PP was my primary-care physician. I was self-employed and scraping by, medical insurance was unaffordable. But because I needed reliable contraception, I had to see a doctor at least once a year. And the only doctors I could see easily and affordably were at Planned Parenthood. The people there were always professional, respectful, knowledgeable, and helpful, though sometimes the waits were rather long.
(For a few years I went to a "breakaway" clinic on the same block as the Philadelphia PP, the Elizabeth Blackwell Center -- which I now see been rolled back into PP proper. The Blackwell Center's motto was "Warm Speculums and Time to Talk" -- during a period when the former was not yet standard gynecological practice.)
My guess is that I was PP's average client: no abortion, no cancer, no STDs, I just went there for contraception and got basic primary medical care along with it, at a price I could afford. PP's core mission has always been giving women access to contraception. In Canada (for instance) they concentrate on information and education about all aspects of "sexual health", because lack of knowledge is the biggest barrier to birth control. In the US lack of knowledge is only part of the problem, the difficulty and expense of getting a doctor and prescription is another one.
In the last abortion discussion we had around here, a number of people said
Contraception is easily available in the United States.This is not actually true, if we're talking about *effective* contraception. The most effective contraception methods will always be ones that don't have to be deployed every time you have sex, but only checked up or re-deployed occasionally -- injections, IUDs, patches, etc. Such methods are not going to be over-the-counter, they will always require seeing a doctor and getting a prescription. For women who are poor, uninsured, or transient, this is not at *all* easy, and in many areas it would be almost impossible without PP.
People may swear until they're blue in the face that their desire to defund PP and put it out of business is only about abortion, but it *clearly* isn't -- or at the very least, reduction in abortions wouldn't be the major effect. On the contrary: Planned Parenthood prevents abortions, because it gives even poor women the ability to avoid unplanned pregnancies, the cause of almost all abortions.
Dianna Anderson wonders why is it so hard to be truthful about Planned Parenthood? in the Christian community, why myths about what PP does are so pervasive and hard to let go of. Is it a "bubble" thing, where they don't hear from enough people with countervailing evidence and experience, so that anything like Planned Parenthood Saved Me doesn't seem plausible? Or I wonder if "pro-life" Protestants are starting to become anti-contraception? The most striking graph of the week on this topic:
which shows that the only group of Americans who agree with the Catholic Bishops about whether contraception must be part of any employer health plan are White Evangelicals. Actual Catholics are much less likely to toe the Catholic hierarchy's line.
Altogether, I feel that those of you who were saying that there's no way serious numbers of Serious People are seriously trying to get rid of birth control have to bring up some more actual evidence, something that would prove that e.g. Richard Santorum winning Republican primaries doesn't mean anything.
 Before you get up to argue that the fact that condoms are sold all over proves that contraception is easily available, note that for a woman to carry condoms is
used as evidence of prostitution by the NYPD, among others.