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A Call to Fight for Planned Parenthood

Jillian Clark ‘19, Opinion Columnist

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If it wasn’t for Planned Parenthood, I would not be alive today, although not for the reason that so many people would like to imagine.

I did not experience a dangerous pregnancy nor did I approach the possibility of an illegal abortion. I was not one of the many women whose life was saved by catching a sexually transmitted disease or a strain of cancer in its early stages. In fact it is not even just my life that would not be possible without the help of the Planned Parenthood organization, but my entire branch of the family would cease to exist.

This is because in the late twenties, my great-grandmother experienced a miscarriage and in the aftermath was sent to what was then called the American Birth Control League to receive her very first contraceptive device, a diaphragm, which Margaret Sanger had brought to the U.S. just four years prior. Almost a decade later, after fully recovering from her miscarriage, she was able to safely give birth to my grandmother. The birth of my grandmother led to the birth of (currently) nine other people.

My mother and two aunts all contribute to society and their communities in their own ways, not only through motherhood, but also by being an educator, a nurse and a bookkeeper and employer. Her six grandchildren are either building their own careers and families or in the process of furthering their education so that they can make their own contributions.

Without the help of one diaphragm in 1929, none of this would be possible.

More importantly, without the help of Planned Parenthood (as it was renamed in 1942) my family would not exist.

If you are of the belief that my family’s story is old and outdated, you’re wrong. But first, let’s start with the very basic facts.

Since its conception, the Planned Parenthood organization has been committed to providing communities and, especially but not exclusively, the women within those communities with quality health care and information about how to keep themselves healthy.

In their 2013-2014 annual report Planned Parenthood claimed that about 34% of their services were providing contraceptives to the people that need them. Now a days we can imagine that this includes anyone from married women with health issues (like my great grandmother) to young women who would prefer to live independently from tradition.

The other services include about 42% going towards STI and STD Testing and Treatment, 11% for general Women Health Services, 9% for Cancer Screening and Prevention,1% for other services and yes, 3% goes towards abortion. Which is a good thing considering that in the late 1920s, about 15,000 women died every year from botched abortions because they lacked access to safe health care.

Considering that if the American Birth Control League had not provided her with the contraception she needed, my great grandmother could have been one of the many within that statistic, I’m quite pleased that there is a place in the modern world for women to get both safe contraceptive devices and safe abortions.

Although my family’s story is old, it is not outdated.The women of the United States still need quality health care just as much as they did in the 1920s and thankfully, women’s healthcare has come an exceedingly long way since the inception of the American Birth Control League.

Sadly, there are still many women who lack both the funds and the education that are needed to get good health care. As funding is taken away and more and more restrictions are put on the organization, it is becoming increasingly difficult for women of lower socioeconomic classes to gain the access to safe health care that everyone deserves.

This is why we still need organizations like Planned Parenthood, so that women without the necessary funds can get the help they need for themselves and for their children.

Each time a Planned Parenthood is closed or funding is drained, it takes away something important from communities across the nation. It takes away women’s ability to understand, empower, and take care of their bodies and in some extreme cases, it can take away lives.

As women in the modern world, it is important to remember our past and keep in mind that it took a lot of hard work and sacrifice from many people to get where we are today. Now, as we once again face the old challenge of our government stripping women of their agency, we need to educate ourselves about our past, stay prepared within our present and fight, as others once had to, for our future.

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A Call to Fight for Planned Parenthood