Monday, August 31, 2015

The Latest Assault on Planned Parenthood

Margaret Sanger

The most recent attempt by the Republicans to defund Planned Parenthood, on the grounds that it is trafficking in aborted fetus tissue for profit is so outrageous, that I don't know whether to laugh or cry. It is now clear that this latest round is based on a series of doctored video tapes that will not hold up in a court of law.

But why do Republicans want Planned Parenthood wiped off the face of the earth? What is the motivation behind their vicious attacks on what the United Nations has declared to be a basic human right? Under international law, countries have an obligation to provide women with access to a full range of contraceptives and contraceptive information.

Defunding Planned Parenthood on the grounds that it kills unborn babies, is like defunding Mass General's Weight Center because they perform gastric bypass surgery, as a means of last resort. Never mind that they also provide other life-saving services in the form of obesity medication, nutrition counseling, exercise programs and are at the forefront of current research in weight disorders. Without these services, diabetis would become more rampant than it already is.

Defunding Planned Parenthood would jeopardize the health of countless women who not only depend on Planned Parenthood's health services, but it would, in fact have the opposite effect of what these zealots want: an increase in the need for abortions. Planned Parenthood spends 34% of its revenue on providing contraceptives and only 3% on abortions, which does NOT come from tax money, since this has been declared illegal since 1976.

In all fairness, not every Republican is against Planned Parenthood. The more reasonable members of the GOP see the value of such a program and do not use at as an excuse to turn back the clock to a time when women had to resort to medieval and ineffective means of birth control, most of them based on superstition, such as using ointments containing crocodile dung, drinking Lysol or jumping backwards seven times after intercourse. Even Donald Trump has good things to say about Planned Parenthood.

Not too long ago, contraceptives and information on birth control were considered a form of pornography and it was illegal to publish, distribute or even possess such items. Married couples could be arrested for using birth control in the privacy of their own bedrooms, and without the efforts of Margaret Sanger, who founded the American Birth Control League in 1921, the precursor of Planned Parenthood, we would still be jumping ourselves silly. In the 60's the pill finally came on the market, which changed everything, of course.

Throughout history it has been women's responsibility to prevent unwanted pregnancies. But why? Why isn't there a male contraceptive pill? Wouldn't it be a lot simpler to load a gun with blanks rather than try to protect the woman with a bullet proof vest, which is often not bullet proof anyway? In fact, a male contraceptive pill has already been developed, under the name Vasalgel. One injection lasts for 10 years and is completely reversible at any time. The problem is that drug companies are not that interested in mass marketing it, since it is much less lucrative than the pill, which needs to be taken daily. Why sell a flat-screen television to a man, when you can rent one to a woman for a decade?

The other problem is that it is not a pill but an injection. Yes, every ten years, a sharp needle will have to be inserted in a male's genitals under anesthesia. That is not very appealing, since it probably involves some unpleasantness. You know what else is unpleasant? Giving birth. Getting an IUD inserted. Getting an abortion. Cramps during your period. Having a miscarriage. Not to mention the pill’s many side effects: headaches, nausea, mood swings, anxiety and loss of libido.

A pill for men has been sitting on the shelf for almost 50 years, but is going nowhere fast because of lack of profit for the manufacturer and men's unwillingness to share the burden. Women don't seem to be too eager to share control either. Trusting another human being, even if it IS your husband, with a decision of such magnitude, is counter-intuitive, especially because women still have to pick up the pieces if something goes wrong. But husbands trust their wives with the pill, so why not admit that we are all in the same boat, men AND women?

In many countries around the world, birth control is not viewed as a 'moral' issue, but rather as a way to influence demographics. It is primarily in America and a few other extremely religious countries that it has never freed itself from the clutches of religion. Although nearly all the care offered by Planned Parenthood is preventive services and screenings, including contraception, testing for sexually transmitted infections, pap smears and breast exams, from its inception it has had to fight restrictions on its services in almost every state in the country.

So, yes, birth control (which unfortunately sometimes includes abortions) IS a moral issue. Having access to birth control is a human right and the moral obligation of every country to provide such access. It guarantees our right to lead a good life and to determine if and when we want children. leave comment here