Every year, Planned Parenthood offers services to more than five million men, women, and adolescents. In that year, they offer nearly one million Pap tests and more than 850,000 breast exams, provide provides more than 3.3 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections, and estimate that their services prevent as many as 621,000 unintended pregnancies. Many locations offer prenatal and postpartum care. In addition, they offer safe, affordable abortions.
People who oppose reproductive self-determination hate that. Why should women have the right to decide if they become pregnant? After all, if God didn't want you to punish you with the blessing of a baby, He wouldn't have made you a wanton slut who seeks sexual pleasure.
Hence, Planned Parenthood and other reproductive health clinics around the country find themselves dealing with a special campaign called "40 Days for Life." Serena at Feminists for Choice explains how it works:
Forty Days for Life and other anti-choice groups are conducting a “prayer vigil” campaign, where they will target Planned Parenthood clinics and other family planning providers, holding protests outside of the buildings and generally harassing patients.
She has a list of this year's targeted clinics, as well as suggestions for how to help women exercise their right to health care during this time. The Choices Campus Blog is calling for students to help targeted clinics as much as possible. And don't be fooled that this is about abortion.
I can completely understand why someone might be opposed to abortion (although I don't agree with the reasoning nor do I believe that one person has the right to impose their religious beliefs about conception on others), but also insisting that birth control is immoral is beyond the pale for most Americans, who quite frankly, kind of like the idea that they can have sex without fear of pregnancy. But "40 Days for Life" is about birth control, too. Erica at Idle Disquisitions explains:
There's a nice video [embedded in her post] that sums up what these protesters think, but in a nutshell, it is that all forms of contraception should be illegal. There give arguments like, "Condoms just allow men to use women... we're just allowing more use-ary [sic]" and, direct quote: "It's like telling your husband, okay you can talk to me but first let me put on ear plugs." Is she trying to say that women can't feel anything through a condom? I'm confused. They also think that the pill is harmful to women, and so they stand outside clinic and harass those who are going to pick up a prescription.
Birth control aside, and since the vast majority of people going to Planned Parenthood are not getting abortions, but rather pap smears, breast exams, tests and treatments for STDs (which, if left untreated, could actually prevent pregnancy), and sometimes prenatal and postpartum care, it is hard to see how supposedly "pro-life" protesters are supporting life by harassing people who want health care services and in many cases, can't get them elsewhere. Don't pap smears and breast exams help keep people alive? I know. I'm just stoopid and morally corrupt and confused in thinking that people should make decisions about their reproductive capabilities based on their own values, morals, and religions. Pray for me.
Another thing I love about supporters of "40 Days for Life" is that they claim they are just peaceful lovers of the unborn facing violent, angry feminist murders doing their best to subvert God's intended unequal relationship between men and women. This may be true in some cases, but the I Am Emily X blog gives Planned Parenthood's workers an anonymous way to share their experiences during this difficult period. They describe everything from people shouting "Murderer" in their face to protesters wearing vests made to look like Planned Parenthood volunteers' vests so they can confuse patients.
It all leaves me wondering: If a cause is just, where do deception and intimidation fit in?
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