I’ve always gotten an odd sort of pride from the response when I tell my Democrat friends I’m Republican. They’re always so surprised. I relish the “you’re not like the rest of them” comments that I receive, and try hard to convey myself as a constitutional conservative who cares mostly for the economy and not about what people do in their free time—in other words, I was socially liberal.
I can argue both sides of the marriage debate, yet I understand it is not government’s place to tell anyone what to do with his or her life. I feel the same way about wearing seat belts. It’s a personal affront that government would dare tell me I have to take a life-saving step that affects no one except for my own body.
I represent the overshared social media image that says:
Don’t like gay marriages? Don’t get one.
Don’t like abortions? Don’t get one.
Don’t like sex? Don’t have it.
Don’t like drugs? Don’t do them.
Don’t like porn? Don’t watch it.
Don’t like alcohol? Don’t drink it.
Don’t like your rights taken away? Don’t take away someone else’s.
But social media posts like this rarely dive into the complexity that each thought conveys. You know whose rights I really don’t want to take away? Unborn children’s.
Usually I lose my “cool Republican” card once I tell people I’m pro-life. It’s even shocked some people. The coolness evaporates once I note I do not stand with Planned Parenthood.
“You don’t come across as anti-woman,” they say. “How can you have such archaic thoughts about women’s rights if you support personal rights so vehemently? PLUS, YOU’RE A WOMAN.”
As with the marriage debate, I didn’t always fall squarely onto one side. As in that case, after weighing different reasons, I decided where I stand. Unlike with marriage, though, personal events have shaped my position on abortion.
My First Planned Parenthood Visit
At 17 years old, I believed abortions should be legal. I knew I would never get one, but I didn’t want to deny a woman the right to choose. I couldn’t vote yet, but I was already forming a keen interest for politics. I knew this position went against many in the party with which I aligned, but I didn’t have to have an all-or-nothing approach to politics. I was mostly Republican, but I was also a female—so, duh.
Also, like most 17-year-old girls, I wanted birth control but didn’t want to tell my parents. The obvious choice was Planned Parenthood. I didn’t have ultra-conservative parents—by then I had for about a year been seeing my own mother’s midwife/nurse practitioner for gynecological exams. My mother had even subtly given her permission to give me Plan B should I need it (then one needed parental permission). But, like any 17-year-old girl, I did not want to have an awkward conversation.
So I drove myself to Planned Parenthood. During my appointment, they took my blood pressure and weight and gave me a prescription. No discussion, no exam, just, “Here, this is the best kind for your age.” Eventually, I realized that the specific birth control I was prescribed gave me awful mood swings and what I can only describe as rage. I finally manned up and talked to my mom, who didn’t want me on birth control, but understood. She was horrified at Planned Parenthood. At the time, I didn’t understand why. I went birth-control-free until college, when I went to a real OB/GYN at the student health center, who actually walked me through an entire process of selecting a pill. Eight years later, I’m still on it.
This was my first key indicator that there was no “care” involved in women’s healthcare at Planned Parenthood. I had felt herded like a cow. I didn’t realize the stark difference until I was in the student health center with a doctor who asked questions about my body to decide what would be the best option for me. We looked not for just a baby prevention method, but something that would overall benefit me as a woman.
My Second Visit to Planned Parenthood
Two years into college, I found myself late—yes, that kind of late. Now, I knew it was probably nothing, but I wasn’t sure, and I wanted to be. Like a lot of college students, I drank on weekends and if I were pregnant I didn’t want to harm the child. Again, due to embarrassment, I didn’t go to the doctor I knew. I was afraid, even at 20 years old, that a pregnancy test would somehow show up on a bill that went to my parents. If I wasn’t pregnant I didn’t want the test to ever come to light. So, again I trekked to Planned Parenthood, this one located right off campus.
I had to fill out a form. On it you check the boxes of things you are willing to consider. The options essentially broke down to a) abortion b) adoption c) parenting. I chalked it up to alphabetical order that abortion came first. At this point in life, I still solidly fell on the “I would never have an abortion, but other people should be able to” side of the fence. I checked options B and C, took the test, and was taken into a room to hear my results. Before getting those results, I was interrogated.
“Why won’t you consider abortion?” the representative asked. “You realize what a strain on your life parenting would be, don’t you?” I explained that abortion just wasn’t something I personally believed in. She scoffed at me before finally telling me I wasn’t pregnant.
I left the office and cried. Maybe it was relief, but I mostly felt hurt and manipulated. What if I had been pregnant—would she have been able to sway me? How many others have passed through those doors and were swayed to terminate, who felt the strain—financial, physical, or mental—that parenting might cause so decided it would be easier to just “fix the problem”?
Some Choices Create a Baby
Therein lies the problem. As I’ve gotten older and more informed, I came to realize “pro-choice” isn’t a choice at all. I realized it’s not about female rights, but about the rights of the unborn child. The “choices” liberals fail to take into consideration are the choices that lead to a pregnancy. Since when did fear of the unknown become cause to end a life?
I recently read an article on The Federalist that quotes a woman saying (emphasis mine), “They offer a valuable service to the community in terms of STD testing and prevention, pregnancy counseling, including prenatal care, mammograms, well-woman care. I have never known anyone at a Planned Parenthood to try and talk a woman into an abortion.” Well, I do. And I know countless others feel the same.
The issue is with thinking that abortion is a fix to an absolute problem. Can’t afford a kid? Abortion. Too busy for a kid? Abortion. Not the “right time”? Abortion.
Killing Children Is No Solution
Some say Republicans aren’t pro-life, but pro-fetus, because they’re unwilling to fund welfare programs for children once they are actually born. They’ll do anything to keep the fetus alive, but once it’s in the world they forget about it. I agree—to a point.
I do believe we need to reform our welfare system so it’s fair and the weakest among us are taken care of. But when did the solution to our welfare problem became preventing babies from taking their first breaths? When did we decide that killing the problem was a fit solution?
So let’s talk about choice. It will never be my choice to give my tax dollars to an organization that continues to harm lives while claiming they provide care to women. That’s like the Wizard of Oz telling us to pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. Just because an organization does some good does not justify its evil.
If women who receive life-saving healthcare from Planned Parenthood get diverted to other health-care clinics, that is okay, especially if the tax dollars are also diverted. Planned Parenthood is not the be-all, end-all of women’s health care.
There are choices. Planned Parenthood just doesn’t want you to know it.