#2 Legislating Choice

What do I know about Planned Parenthood:
My neighbor works at Planned Parenthood and I always believed that access to this kind of resource was available to all.  It is eye opening to see how powerful white men decide it is their choice to determine whether or not a woman wants to have a baby by limiting access to both planned parenthood and to contraception.
Without Planned Parenthood and other federally funded resources, only women with money will be able to control what happens to them. When you take away programs that provide supports, then only people with money get what they need. This means only those with resources already can access this and continues to create an unfair system.
There are numerous laws being enacted or rescinded right now on contraception or abortion that restrict women’s access.
I recently read this article where a pro-choice man gives a scenario that if you are in a burning building with a 5-year old boy or 100 embryos, which would you save?  Wouldn’t you choose the 5 year old boy over the embryos? The man who shared this scenario said that every pro-life person he has asked this question to has not been able to fully answer the question. They give excuses and look the other way. It’s interesting to me to see the way people with this view answer direct questions and explain their opinions.
Women can’t get what they need because it doesn’t fit into conservative views of abortion. In order to be elected into office where you would be able to make these decisions you would have to come from money already. These people have most likely always had access to privilege and they grew up in an era with certain expectations that do not reflect the current needs of young women. Especially women in poverty.
It feels very hypocritical to me to deny women the right to abortion without giving them access to contraception. Providing free birth control could help women from being in this place from the start.
Rape victims are having less and less access to help and support if they become pregnant or contract a disease. People are still blaming women.
Planned parenthood is much much more than just an abortion clinic. It is one of the only accesses to health care for women in poverty or with little money. It’s a family service that is there to support people in need with medical attention.
Questions generated:
Are access to resources for birth control and abortion state-funded or federally-funded? Do we have local control over state programs?
What do other countries do? If more equitable why not borrow their system?
How does the separation of church and state, our government is based upon, play a role in this?
What happens if planned parenthood is shut down? Are there any resources the local school systems can or should provide?
Have any officials making these decisions experienced being underprivileged?
Liv Hennessey

5 Responses to “#2 Legislating Choice

  • Well, this is probably one of the most controversial social issues of our time, Liv. It is so difficult to discuss it without immediately falling into a polarizing dialectic. As a lifelong feminist, I have always believed that abortion should be a choice made between a woman and her doctor. I know many women who have had – or considered having – abortions with a vast spectrum of reasons. I do not know one who did it without agonizing about it. Unless the pregnancy is the result of rape, it is probably one of the hardest decisions a woman – and if she’s in a committed relationship, her partner – can make. That said, I also know – and am even related to – people who consider abortion the cruelest abomination of our day. Outside the church where my beloved niece was married last weekend, there were signs that said, “Pray to end abortion.” Far from being bad people, “pro-lifers” are often caring, generous folks, though I adamantly disagree with their point of view.

    I often wonder what we could do to help people who do not see eye-to-eye still look at each other’s common humanity and perhaps find common ground. That might be an interesting and productive lens with which to look at this seemingly intractable issue.

    As for discovering how low income people are affected, you might take a look at Planned Parenthood’s discussion about the Hyde Amendment which banned Medicaid (the federal program set up to for health care of economically disadvantaged people) from paying for the procedure: https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/issues/abortion/hyde-amendment .

    If the Supreme Court should overturn Roe v. Wade, then legalized abortion would revert back to the states, which was true when I was your age. Women who live in states like Texas (which has already severely limited access to just a few providers) would once again have to travel to places like Vermont which has consistently maintained liberal abortion policies in order to end their pregnancies. Here’s an interesting source I found about tracking which states are most likely to ban or support abortion: https://www.guttmacher.org/evidence-you-can-use

    This is a timely and important issue. It is also loaded and intimate. I look forward to hearing how your thinking about it progresses as you uncover more information.

  • Last night I was actually watching some videos on abortion from both pro-life and pro-choice parties. They were indeed interesting… horrid but necessary to understanding why other’s think differently. I’ll link them below.
    Planned Parenthood is great. However, as you said there are so little of these resources and those in power aren’t changing it. I wonder how you will influence Planned Parenthoods to become more accessible? or rather How will you convince politicians to make it more accessible?
    I am pro-choice, to get it out of the way. But pro-choice, for me, isn’t just two exact choices, rather many alternatives for one to choose, as it’s their freedom to with their own body. Yes, women and people have the right to birth and bring forth a child into this world. They also can choose whether or not they are in need to terminate a pregnancy. But there are several other choices. Like contraception (as you pointed out) and abstinence. Even though people have a problem with these two, not everyone will agree on one thing. Another alternative here is adoption. However, I read Kaitlin’s post and it made me think of the adoption process. Maybe adoption isn’t the best, but it’s a choice one can make if they aren’t sure.

    Lastly, the analogy pro-choice made with the 5-year-old boy made me want to dig in deeper on what pro-life responses were. In this article: http://thefederalist.com/2017/10/18/no-saving-child-instead-embryos-burning-building-not-negate-pro-life-position/, written by Daniel Payne goes on to say the right choice is to save the little boy… but then continues to destroy himself.
    “The reasons for saving the child are numerous and obvious. A five-year-old can feel pain, for instance—tremendous amounts of it—and viable embryos, even 1,000 embryos, cannot…” (Daniel Payne, Oct. 18, 2017). He doesn’t even call them people.

    “Dr. Levatino Destroys Abortion in 2 Minutes” 5 mins (Pro-life)

    “What Happens After An Abortion” 10 mins (Pro-choice)

  • Thanks for all your deep thinking on what I would agree is a very important topic, regardless of your gender. It is also one that has for decades divided our country, and our two major political parties. A conversation can go from casual to heated with just one mention of the word abortion… and that makes it even more important a topic. We need to arrive at a place where civil discourse is possible and move beyond; your investigation is a great place to start that!

    “It feels very hypocritical to me to deny women the right to abortion without giving them access to contraception.”

    I love this line because it always seems like the ultra-right wants it both ways. No contraception, and no abortion? No abortion yet death penalty? No abortion yet cut social services, school budgets and minimum wage? The list of contradictions runs high in my view. And once religion enters the debate, it is stalled completely.

    I also really appreciate that you are looking at this issue through the lens of the underserved. Privilege is such a powerful element in this debate, and without it, the whole scenario is altered.

    Keep digging into your own assumptions, biases, opinion, as you search for truth and meaning. I am so excited for your journey!


  • Hi Liv,

    The example you gave about saving a five year old child versus saving one hundred embryos was not something I had heard or, frankly, considered before. It shows that even some people who are pro-life and are very much against abortion don’t even realize they continue to prioritize children that have already been born over children that have not, or the embryos. I thought it was interesting that even when they say that embryos should be classified as children and abortion as murder, they choose to save the five year old instead of the one hundred “lives.”

    You support giving all women access to contraception, and deem it increasingly important to give “women in poverty or with little money” as well as rape victims access to it. Your topic could also take you in two different directions: you could focus on give all women equal access with contraception, or you could focus on how “people are still blaming women.” You have excellent questions to guide your research as well. Do you see yourself continuing with this topic?

  • Hi Liv,
    Wow, this a huge topic right now and I’ve never thought about it in this way. Something that struck me was when you were referring to the white men with power. That just made think about the lack of education has played a huge part in the choices people around us are making. Also the lack of women representation Another question I would add would be If the government stops funding programs will independent groups come along? Since many organizations are dependent on funding. I know you mentioned Planned parenthood but are there any other clinics that offer similar services in Vermont? With this being such a huge topic there are definitely many different ways to approach it but this sounds like a great start if this is what you want to focus on.
    Way to go! Have a good week,

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