Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's all about the Planning...part two

Okay, so here we are back again.  I've told you what I think about Rush and Maher and that whole debacle. But why did it play out so large? What was the main debate that led up to Rush opening his yap anyway? Birth control. It's a hot issue in the 1972 election cycle...I mean in the 2012 election cycle. Though I didn't just pull 1972 out of thin air, did you know that single women couldn't be prescribed the pill in all 50 states until 1972?  Ridiculous right? Now why are we having this discussion again?  And again?  And again?

There seem to be two sides to the birth control debate right now, those that frame it as a religious freedom issue and those that frame it as a women's health issue.  As a non-religious woman you know which side I see the debate from. The whole thing blew up when it was recommended that women's birth control, the pill, be a baseline offering from health insurance companies. Now religious institutions, catholic religious institutions specifically, made the claim that it was against their religious beliefs to use birth control and therefore they should be exempted from this ruling. This is where things got tricky in my opinion, if you are a church offering private insurance then I think you have a valid point. People aren't going to work for you if they don't believe your religious teachings and so they should understand what they are getting in to.  If you are, on the other hand, a hospital or a college and you were founded on a catholic stance but you now accept federal funding ( Pell Grants, Federal assistance, medicare, etc...) and you hire people outside of the church and religion to work for you  then you are no longer a strictly religious institution and I think you fall back under the baseline guidelines. As a hospital or college you are not free from taxes as a church is so why should you be free from other federal guidelines?

But the freedom of religion argument is that they are a catholic school or hospital and as such it is against their beliefs to use birth control and so they are offended that they should be forced to offer it.  There is a loophole, of course, there always is, they will cover it if it is not prescribed for birth control but for other medical issues, you just have to ask permission.  Friends of mine who were adamant that discussing end of life options with your doctor was the same as a death panel are in favor of this discussion.  That puzzles me.  When is it okay to have a private health care decision be taken out of the hands of just you and your doctor and when is it not?  Apparently it's okay if you have a vagina and not any other time.

So as we argue about women's reproduction again...I have to swing back around to the recent flair up with Susan G. Komen and Planned Parenthood.  Now we all know that PP is the bugaboo of the Right , up to and including a Senator lying about the services they provide on the Senate floor. When Komen got caught up in the middle of the scuffle, everyone has an opinion about what happened there, I have one as well but to give the short version I think they got caught not paying attention to the agenda of a member of their board shame on them. I also think it shocked a few people how strongly people felt about Planned Parenthood. On both sides of the aisle and the issues.

When I was a sophomore in high school I started a volunteer program with the Crisis Pregnancy Center. I'm going to share my training experience with you. They had come to speak at our church, looking for volunteers, especially young people. We were going to save the unborn babies. We were going to be heroes! Now, I have mentioned before that I am anti-abortion but pro-choice. Back then I was firmly pro-life. Until this organization gave me a taste of what that meant to them, and to many who are staunchly pro-life.

The first thing you need to know is that at the time if you looked up Abortion Services in the yellow pages that is where you would find Crisis Pregnancy Center listed.  Part of the little write up mentioned that they offered free confidential pregnancy testing as well. So a woman would call the center and your job was to get them to come in for the pregnancy test. If they asked about prices, times, procedures for receiving an abortion you weren't to answer those questions directly but let them know you would discuss everything with them when they arrived at the center. Once the woman arrived at the center you took her in to a room and had her fill out her personal information and gave her a pregnancy test.  While you were waiting for the results of the test you started the film...you all know the film I am talking about.  The one they show to depict what an abortion is. Using late term footage. Which is not at all what the cluster of cells this woman currently had looked like, but that didn't matter, we needed to show her what she was doing.

Let that sink in for just a bit. Without her knowledge of what she was about to walk in to we were to  trick her into giving up her private information, give her a pregnancy test, though there were no doctors on site and force her to watch a pro life slasher film. Usually a young scared woman who had no where else to turn. What would Jesus do?  Probably throw these people out on to the street and hold the young girl while she cried. Or at least that's the Jesus that I thought we were supposed to be living like...

Yes, I never made it to actually being a Crisis Counselor.  I asked inconvenient questions of the training staff and showed too much concern about the hussy who got herself pregnant instead of the unborn innocent she was carrying.  Keep in mind at the time I was still very strictly pro-life and I didn't pass muster.  Because I couldn't understand the need to be deceptive to help women make what I felt was the "right " choice. Shouldn't we have been just as concerned about her health and well being as we were about the child she was carrying? Apparently not.

I will say it again, in case you missed it, I am anti- abortion but pro-choice. I wouldn't have one, but that's my choice. I have had friends who have had them and that was their choice. And let's just put it out there right now that the woman who casually uses abortion as a birth control method is also a rarity. Everyone that I know who has made the decision to terminate a pregnancy has done so after much thought and contemplation, it's not an easy decision for anyone. For pro-lifers to throw out the multi-abortion receiver as the standard bearer for the pro-choice movement would be the same as saying everyone who is pro-life throws bombs at clinics.  I am also very pro Planned Parenthood.  Want to know why? Because I have a son who is going to turn 20 this year instead of one that is going to be 26.

I waited until Brent to become sexually active, but I did not wait until we were married. I knew I didn't want to be pregnant and I also knew that condoms were not an effective form of birth control.  If they were I wouldn't have been born. I also knew that I couldn't go to my parents about birth control. The only acceptable form of birth control before marriage was abstinence. This was a religious belief for them. No ifs, ands or buts. I also knew this was not an effective stance to take. I had been to too many weddings of good Christian girls who had their first babies just a little bit early...say 6 month premies who weighed in at a healthy 8 pounds..so weird.

Anyway, I knew I wasn't going to stop having sex, I knew I didn't want to get pregnant and I knew condoms weren't completely effective so what next?  My best friend recommend Planned Parenthood.  Now to someone from the church this was like saying, "how about the abortion factory?" Was she high? What was she thinking? But she told me that they also did birth control. So I made an appointment with the Great Satan and off I went.

I met first with a counselor who talked to me about getting on the pill and asked me why I felt I couldn't talk to my parents about it. She recommended that I do so. She then explained what all I would go through that day. I had to have an exam (my first of that sort...oh joy) and what it would entail.  She told me all about the tests they would run.  She gave me information on the pill (I am old and there was only one choice back then) and what I would need to do to get my prescription filled and how much it would cost. She recommended that I quit smoking, not only for general health but because of the side effects from the pill.  She let me know that I would have to come back every three months to have my blood pressure tested to renew my prescription. She recommended again that I talk to my parents. She told me all about how the pill prevented pregnancy but not STDs. Then I met with the doctor who went through all of that information again, including talking to my parents. They also let my best friend stay with me through all of these talks and through my exam.

Contrast that with my experience with Crisis Pregnancy. Which organization would you rather your teenage daughter turned to in a time of need? Yes, I know there are those out there who think that a 17 year old girl shouldn't be able to get birth control without her parent's permission. But put that aside and think about the choices here. I was having sex. I was going to continue having sex. I didn't like condoms and knew they weren't effective anyway so what were the odds I was going to be consistent about using them? Honestly, you want to reduce the abortions in this country?  Stop preaching abstinence only programs and start letting people know what options there are for birth control.  I didn't start having sex because I was on birth control, I started having sex because I was in LOOoOOOOoooVE.... I started using birth control because I was smart enough to know that though I loved Brent and planned on marrying him I wasn't ready for a child.

Two months before I got married my mother took me in to our family physician to get me on the pill so I would already be established and regular by my honeymoon. When I told our doctor I had already been on the pill for 8 months by that time she said that she was sorry I didn't feel I could talk to my parents about it but was glad that I had been responsible enough to take care of the issue myself.

So now I have a son who will be 20 this year who was raised by two people who had a chance to establish a life together and grow up a little bit before he was born. And trust me when I say I know he had better parents than he would have had if he were turning 26 this year and was raised by two people who hadn't figured out how to live with each other let alone each other and a baby when he was born.  Isn't this a better goal than to make women feel dirty and cheap and like sluts because they want access to the best form of birth control out there?

For those of you that are going to bring up federal funding for Planned Parenthood and how that shouldn't happen, please know that I have one true believer Libertarian friend. One. For the rest of you, you believe the government should fund programs I don't believe in, I believe the government should fund programs you don't believe in. That's the way it works. Balance. And healthcare (PP doesn't use government funds to pay for abortions, but if they did it wouldn't be any of your business anyway) for women who cannot afford it otherwise is something I believe in.  Planned Parenthood provides that option.  Which is why, along with my tax dollars, I send them a little extra as well.  To help women live their best lives. And managing when or if they get pregnant is part of that for me.

So I wandered here and there with this discussion but that's how it's been played out in the news lately.  Freedom of Religion is all well and good until you start to force your religious choices on me. If you want to be independent from Federal guidelines then do not accept Federal funds. If you don't support a program, then vote for someone who doesn't support it and try to get your voice heard that way. And I will do the same. Freedom of Religion also means Freedom FROM Religion.  My birth control choices are mine. The only person who gets a say in them is Brent. Then the only other person who needs to be involved in the choices I make is my doctor.

Planning...I'm all for it...

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