Keep Your Hands off my Wallet (A response to Keep Your Hands off: Why Women Need Access to Reproductive Healthcare)

Shane Shuma ’22, Opinion Columnist

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In her article, Keep Your Hands off: Why Women Need Access to Reproductive Healthcare, the author seems to make a quite simple and uncontroversial argument, that women who have access to reproductive healthcare lead better lives. That is an undisputable fact, especially if you use the author’s expansive definition of reproductive healthcare. The author argues that because those types of services are so vital to women they should not be taken away. In her own words, “please keep your hands off our reproductive healthcare.” The question that came into my mind after reading that statement, was where are the people trying to restrict access to STD treatments, ban cancer treatment, or abolish the birth control pill? That was when I realized that the article wasn’t about keeping our hands “off” of those reproductive services but putting hands “on” our wallets.

I agree that birth control is a helpful service to many women, but I don’t believe it should be a federally funded right. This belief does not just go one way. I don’t think the federal government should fund vasectomies, condoms, or abortions either. Sex is an interpersonal experience which should not be subsidized, and no one is entitled to risk-free and consequence-free sex. Additionally, birth control only costs $15 a month without insurance on certain online exchanges. When you ask the taxpayer to fund your sex life, they will have that power in shaping your reproductive health decisions that you don’t want them to have. They can decide how much you will get, what services you have access to, and what will be funded. Decisions that should be left to women and their doctors will be intruded on by the federal government. Asking the government to guarantee and fund unlimited access to reproductive healthcare is the exact opposite of keeping hands off it. If you really want my hands off your reproductive healthcare, don’t ask me to pay for it. 

If the author’s definition of reproductive services only included cancer screenings, STD treatment, and birth control, then they would agree with me that Planned Parenthood needs to be defunded and that those funds need to be placed elsewhere. Most of Planned Parenthood’s funding comes through Medicaid, a service that helps lower income people and families have access to healthcare. For those people, expanding access to other health providers would provide them better services than Planned Parenthood can. People who need STD screening or treatment should see a licensed practitioner, however, if they lack insurance there are urgent care clinics, hospital STD clinics, and local county STD clinics that often provide cheaper access to testing and treatment than Planned Parenthood because their services are free or follow a sliding scale. Regarding cancer screening, it would be much better if that portion of the $528 million that is given to Planned Parenthood every year were given to health providers that actually have mammogram machines or treat cancer, neither of which are services that Planned Parenthood can perform. As I mentioned earlier, birth control is so cheap and easily accessible that millions do not need to be given to Planned Parenthood just for that purpose. 

Even though she didn’t include into her definition of reproductive services, the only reason why the author would not agree with me that funds need to be diverted from Planned Parenthood is because money wouldn’t be going to fund abortions. It is an absolute myth that no federal funding given to Planned Parenthood goes to performing abortion procedures. While it is true that Title IX banned federal funding to be used for abortions, Medicaid, which provides over 75% of the money given to Planned Parenthood by the government, does allow federal funds to be used for abortion. While the Hyde Amendment, passed in 1977, may appear to limit those Medicaid funded abortions in cases of rape, incest, or danger to the mother, states have the power and have used that power to greatly expand the definition of eligible cases. 

The article ends with a plea that we need to keep our hands-off reproductive healthcare and I couldn’t agree more. The government should not be subsidizing the consequences of careless sex and aiding the elimination of millions of potential lives. The government should not give preferential treatment to Planned Parenthood. It should expand freedom and choice to Medicaid recipients by supporting other organizations whose core money making incentive is not to provide abortion. For the most part, the federal government needs to keep its hands-off reproductive healthcare. However, if a state’s citizens want their state to be the main controller and subsidizer of their sex lives, I am not against states funding it. If you really want our hands-off reproductive healthcare, don’t put me or the government in charge of your sex life.