Hi Elm Citizens! Lucy here. If you’ve been following the news, it’s been a pretty terrible month — a couple of months, actually — for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), known more colloquially as just Planned Parenthood. First a year-old video of a doctor allegedly discussing the sale of fetal remains surfaced. Then earlier this month, the House voted to gut Planned Parenthood of $500 million, which would cripple the organization in a heartbeat. And yesterday, PPFA president Cecile Richards was shot down, interrupted, talked over, and ridiculed for her gender after appearing voluntarily before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Rough, to say the least.
For those who still support the organization, Tuesday afternoon marked national #PinkOut Day, a chance for PPFA advocates to come out in force and rally around a cause worth fighting for: affordable reproductive health care, family planning, and preventative cancer screenings for a whopping 2.7 million women annually. New Haveners of all races, genders, and ages came out in force, blanketing the upper Green in pink as they spilled out onto College and Chapel Streets.
There as a reporter for the New Haven Independent, I didn’t pick up a megaphone, wave a sign, don a shirt, or squabble with the counter-protesters who had come out. All of those things would have broken the commitment to fair and unbiased reporting reporters are taught to have. But it was hard. Really hard, actually.
Here’s why. Because I do #StandWithPP, fervently. I couldn’t not. And it doesn’t have to do with being pro-choice (which I am) or seeking low-cost birth control (which I do) or knowing that there would be a safe place to turn if I wasn’t ready to be a parent (which could happen to any pre-menopausal female reading this). It’s because breast cancer runs in my family, snaking through my mother’s bloodline like a ticking time bomb, and I’m tired of watching people die.
People, specifically, who don’t have adequate insurance and think that that one doctor’s appointment, mammogram, or pap smear is too much trouble. Like my mom’s mom. Or my friend Laura’s mom. Or my friend Tracey. Every single woman I know has a list like this.
Every voice calling for the defunding of Planned Parenthood probably does too. The difference is that the right to life for which they call doesn’t seem to extend to communities that can’t afford preventative care.
Last year, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England — the main office of which is right on Whitney Avenue — served 64 thousand women at 16 medical health centers in cities just like New Haven, where many poor or uninsured women don’t have other options for breast and cervical cancer screenings, STI testing, birth control, pregnancy testing and counseling, and abortion. I wasn’t one of them, but I could have been.
And maybe one day I will be. Dear reader, you could be too. And that’s enough for me to make a stand any day of the week.