As I walked into the mailroom today, two Brown students sat behind a table emblazoned with the request, “Stand With Planned Parenthood!” As I was picking up my latest Bon Appétit (along with Girl Scout cookies from my wonderful mother!), I made a resolution to talk to the students, and find out why precisely Planned Parenthood is crying out for our help.
If you, unlike myself, have been keeping up with the news over the past week instead of studying far too much chemistry you may already know that conservatives in the House have proposed to cut Planned Parenthood’s entire $317 million budget (I found out today). Here’s a link to a pretty comprehensive article about what’s been going on: Planned Parenthood Funding is Caught in Budget Feud
Basically, $75 million is really at stake (the Senate would likely not vote to cut all funding), but our government still supports about a third of Planned Parenthood’s 1.1 billion dollar budget. My new friends made it clear to me that not a dime of this money is legally allowed to pay for abortions, but opponents say this money frees up funds for abortions. (I don’t know how they allocate funds, so I take no stance.)
They additionally reassured me that only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortions. 3%? Such a small number you say, whatever is the problem? Well friends, 3% represents 332,278 children who were not born in America in the year 2009 (about 1/3 of all abortions nationwide). By the way, a “service” ranges anywhere from getting tested for HIV to receiving contraception to being referred to an adoption agency (which happened a mere 977 times compared to >300,000 abortions in 2009). Now to be clear, I strongly support the medical services provided, which are generally to low-income women. What I abhor is the equation of taking a human life to a medical procedure or the ambiguous term “service.”
Why do I feel so strongly? Well, what I told my fellow Brown students this afternoon was that had my birthmother gone to Planned Parenthood 21 years ago desirous of an abortion, I would not be standing here today.
You can say all you want about “women’s rights” but quite frankly, I think we should call the pro-life movement “infant’s rights.” A fetus shares 50% percent of a mother’s genetic code, therefore it is a cop-out to call a fetus a mere extension of the woman’s body – it is a unique being. We don’t tell mothers they can kill their newborns if raising a child is too difficult, why is it any different before the child is born? People shrink in horror at the thought of killing an infant because the mere sight or cry of a baby induces a protective response in most humans. It is the invisibility of the act of abortion that allows people to sweep it under the rug of “freedom.” Imagine the response to a movement to legalize infanticide.
To conclude, I oppose Planned Parenthood because they allow abortions to occur on their premises, but do not oppose the majority of their other services. Even still, 3% is no small number if it translates to 332,278 babies who were not born in 2009. I could have been a part of that statistic in 1989, but by the grace of God am alive today.
*Here is the link to an opinions column I wrote for the Brown Daily Herald, that was birthed out of this post: http://www.browndailyherald.com/gassel-12-the-case-for-infant-rights-1.2516287