Last night at the Democratic National Convention, I found myself nodding in agreement with an articulate woman and mother named Libby Bruce. Bruce spoke emphatically about her own experience as a Planned Parenthood patient. She explained her battle with endometriosis and told us how she was able to get medical treatment for her condition that could have robbed her of her fertility.
I had tears in my eyes watching as she shared that she is a mother now because of the care she received at Planned Parenthood. She spoke for many of us. She spoke for me.
My first time as a Planned Parenthood patient was in 1994. I was nearing the end of my freshman year of college and I was experiencing menstrual cramps so painful that they interfered with my daily life. I knew I should go to the doctor to get checked out. I was 18 and I had insurance, but it was under my father’s plan and I was embarrassed to tell him that I needed to have a “female” exam and ask his permission to make an appointment.
As a full-time college freshman with a work-study job which paid me $4.65 an hour, I knew I needed to find a way to see a doctor. I turned to Planned Parenthood. They used their sliding scale and I was able to see a caring physician who prescribed medication to make my cramps less painful. You see, people have this idea that Planned Parenthood is just for women who want to have abortions and this couldn’t be more wrong. When I went, I was just a college student. I didn’t have a boyfriend. I had never had sex. I just wanted to go on living without horrific cramps for a week out of every month. Because of the compassion and care they showed me, I continued to go there for routine exams while in college.
In the spring of 1997, I was informed that a routine Pap Smear had come back with abnormal results requiring further testing. After some invasive and uncomfortable procedures, I was told that I had cervical cancer.
Can you imagine being not quite 22 years old and learning that you may have something that could prevent you from having babies someday down the road? I was scared. I felt alone. I was out of school and in a full-time job. I was doing what I was “supposed” to do. However, when I started my job, there was a 6 month waiting period for my health insurance to kick in. I was no longer on my father’s insurance plan. There was so much fear and confusion and I was really scared to death.
Planned Parenthood was there for me. I was able to get referrals to specialists. I saw one doctor who made me want to run for the hills because it was suggested I undergo a hysterectomy. I saw another who took a conservative approach to eradicating those unwelcome cells and after my last surgery on September 25, 1997, I have been healthy and I am cured. I am a mother. Yes, I am a mother. And I am so thankful that Planned Parenthood was there for me when I didn’t know where else to turn.
Without Planned Parenthood as a safe haven for low income women to have access to cancer screening and routine exams, I truly believe that I would not be a mother today.
I have two amazing boys, ages 7 and 9. I am a mother because of Planned Parenthood.
I am quite sure there are people right now going through what I went through at that age. And it scares the hell out of me to think that if Mitt Romney ends up being elected president in November that he will be robbing other women of the utter joy that being a mother brings.
You see, Planned Parenthood will cease to exist under a Romney-Ryan administration. On Romney’s website, here is what it says in terms of Planned Parenthood:
“As president, he will end federal funding for abortion advocates like Planned Parenthood.”
Mitt Romney is so out of touch with the real struggles Americans face, especially women. His statement is ridiculous. Planned Parenthood DOES NOT USE FEDERAL FUNDS for abortion. By law, federal funding to Planned Parenthood cannot be used for abortion. Mitt Romney doesn’t care about that fact. IF YOU ARE A WOMAN, Mitt Romney does not care about you. He does not care about people like me who had nowhere else to turn when I was in college. He does not care about the uninsured who need mammograms. Or birth control. Or HIV counseling. Or rape crisis counseling.
Let’s say enough uninformed voters turn up on November 6? It will signify the beginning of the end of Planned Parenthood. What will happen then? What will happen to women who rely on cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood? What will happen to rape victims who turn to Planned Parenthood’s rape crisis counseling services? What will happen then? What will happen to the 3 million people per year who have preventive care at Planned Parenthood?
I have written here before about the War on Women. This issue hits me to the core. I said it before and I will say it again. I do not believe that I would be sitting here with the title of Mom–the most important title I could have–if not for the medical care provided by Planned Parenthood. I will be eternally grateful to this organization. They have provided me with the greatest gift–the gift of my children.
I have always been passionate about politics. It is what I chose to study in college. Earlier than that, I remember watching the Republican convention late one weekend evening while spending the night at my Grandma’s as a “tween”. In eighth grade, I participated in a debate in front of the school. At the age of 13, I easily considered myself a Pro-Lifer and Young Republican. In the debate, I was the one defending capital punishment and condemning abortion.
As I have grown older, I have changed. Looking back to that debate 24 years ago, I would even call myself ultra conservative. Years ago, when I first became a mother, I can remember having a graphic on my forum signature stating, “Abortion stops a beating heart.”
In 2004, I started a small online political forum for women. And that is when I became willing to think outside what I had always believed and to look outside myself to reevaluate my views. I remember the ladies and I were debating abortion. I went on with my usual, “Abortion is wrong. People who get them are killing babies. I would never get one!”
Another poster on the board by the screenname of Echo was the “liberal” one of the bunch. Armed with intelligent arguments and respect, she was able to get me to think about why I had my beliefs on abortion and I was able to think not just of what I would do (or think I would do) in a certain situation, but I started to think about others. Not everyone is the same. Not every woman is in a loving relationship and plans for a baby. To think only that irresponsible women who sleep around are just using abortion as another form of birth control is an ignorant thought. I admit it now. My view on abortion was ignorant. I realize that Pro-Life doesn’t just relate to being against abortion. If you are truly pro-life, you are supportive of your fellow living human beings. You want to save lives of people going through poverty, homelessness, war, etc.
And being Pro-Choice doesn’t mean you want to kill babies.
Over the past several years, I have pondered what I would do if I had to make that decision. I married the love of my life and we decided when to try to become pregnant. And when we felt our family was complete, we were able to have control over that as well. Not everyone is in my shoes.
A friend of mine was a victim of rape in college. To see what she endured psychologically and that look of fear and mistrust in her eyes is not one I will forget. What if she had become pregnant? Should she have been forced to carry the rapist’s child to term? No. What about young girls who are the victims of incest? Should they be forced to become mothers when they should be home playing with Barbie dolls?
What if I were to become pregnant again now? It is not in my plan, but I had two high risk pregnancies and spent a good amount of time on bedrest both times. What if I were to get pregnant again and have a very difficult pregnancy and have to make the decision to either let the pregnancy continue or save my own life? I have two children who need me NOW.
Truth be told, and I do not say this lightly, I cannot tell you for certain, “I could never have an abortion.” If it came down to it, I would choose life–the two lives who are depending on me everyday and my own. And I can tell you now that if I were to get pregnant as a result of rape, I am quite sure that I would not continue the pregnancy. Does that make me a horrible person? A wanna be baby killer? No, it makes me honest. And until you are in that situation, don’t you dare say unequivocally or with certainty that you would not consider it either.
Until we are in someone else’s shoes, none of us should chime in with what we feel is the right thing to do. It is treading on dangerous ground.
As women, it is time we all band together to protect our rights as living, breathing human beings. If we do not consider social issues such as abortion key in this presidential election, we could be setting women back decades.
Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and people like Todd Akin and Mike Huckabee are truly dangerous to women. If you think that they aren’t, or that social issues like abortion don’t matter, you are grossly misinformed. On November 6, your vote may determine what happens to Roe vs. Wade — a decision made in 1973. If you believe your vote doesn’t have an impact or that voting for Romney won’t affect women, please, educate yourselves on the ramifications of a Romney-Ryan Administration as it pertains to women.
There is a very real War on Women. What amazes me, however, is that so many of the people shooting from the front lines of this war are WOMEN who do not seem to care that by choosing to support Mitt Romney that you are saying it is OK to take away the rights of women. You are saying that you WANT to lose control over your own body. You are saying that if you have a daughter and she should find herself pregnant as a result of rape, that you would want to force her to carry out a pregnancy. So what if she is just 12. By choosing Romney, who has stated he wants to overturn Roe vs. Wade and get rid of Planned Parenthood, you are oppressing your fellow woman.
This election is CRITICAL for women. For ourselves. For our mothers, our sisters, and our daughters. No one should have the right to tell women what to do with their bodies. No one. If Mitt Romney finds himself in the White House and achieves his goal of overturning Roe vs. Wade, what is next for him, Brown vs. Board of Education?
Recently, my boys (7 and 8) were in the room while the news was on and we had a pretty lengthy discussion about the hulabaloo surrounding Chick-fil-A. For those of you living under a rock, this fast food greasy chicken chain has made lots of news for their stance on gay marriage. More than their opposition to gay marriage, they’ve spent millions of dollars donating money to organizations which promote bigotry and hatred.
I keep hearing people say, “Oh, it’s free speech.” We’re guaranteed this protection under the First Amendment.
Let’s talk about the First Amendment for a moment, shall we?
I write for a living. I am the child of a journalist who was almost put in jail for failing to reveal the name of a source back when I was a small child. I understand how important the First Amendment is. I value the First Amendment and am so thankful to live in a country where we can say what we want to say.
Unfortunately, this is not about free speech. Why are people up in arms over this? Why do I feel sick to my stomach each time a friend “likes” Chick-fil-A on Facebook? It is because this company has spent millions of dollars donating money to HATE organizations. HATE. Organizations like Focus on the Family, Exodus International, Family Research Council, and more.
I am not a religious person. Actually, if I have to be labeled, I would call myself a “spiritual agnostic”. That is not to say that I have a problem with people with a deep religious faith. I respect people from all walks of life and with all belief systems as long as you are not promoting bigotry or hatred or inequality–and as long as you do not infringe on the separation of Church & State or attempt to impose YOUR beliefs on others. I also ask that you don’t use your religion to pick & choose issues in order to express hate. Do you eat ham, have a tattoo–do you gossip? Do you eat seafood? Did you divorce and remarry? All of the aforementioned items are supposed to be banned in the Bible.
So back to Chick-fil-A and my kids’ questions. I explained matter of factly what the situation is and why there is an uproar. Nick asked me why there are people so full of hate and why people cannot be treated fairly. He’s 8. He is right.
And now, due to the power of social media and the Internet, many of us have found out where one another–friends, family members, coworkers, etc– stands on this divisive issue.
I was brought up by my parents to accept everyone and know that people may look different or have different backgrounds, but that people are all people. And gay people have rights too.
“Gee today I think I am going to be straight.” — Let’s be real, my fellow heterosexuals, did you wake up one day and CHOOSE to be attracted to men or women? No. You were born that way and from an early age, you just had that attraction to the opposite sex. I remember my grade school crushes on the male friends in my life while I was still in pigtails. In fifth grade, I “loved” a boy named Brian D. In middle school, it was Brian S. I was just drawn to boys. Some girls were drawn to girls. Get over it. I never consciously chose that I would be attracted to the opposite sex my entire life….and neither did you.
I have watched one of my closest friends, a gay man, struggle for years before he was able to tell his parents. He even dated women in an attempt to “will it away”, as if that were possible. If you have ever had someone in your life who has endured these struggles, you would know that being gay is NOT a choice. This is 2012, yet people are so backwards in their thinking that they believe that people who are different that them are somehow going to affect their lives.
Why should it matter to you? Would you rather someone you love live their whole life pretending to be someone they are not? I have a wonderful family member who passed away several years ago after a long life –a life where she could not be herself because of what other people would think. She was gay. She did not feel she could tell anyone. She was married briefly to a man. She was not in love with her husband. She married him because it was expected of her all those decades ago. They quickly divorced. This woman was the most amazing, loving woman. She was active in her community, attended church every Sunday and loved God, and was a teacher for many years. She even met someone she believed was the love of her life, yet to almost everyone, these two women were just roommates. If anyone had known at the time that they were companions who were in love with each other, it would have been taboo. The outside world believed they were just two “spinsters” who simply shared a home as friends.
Can you imagine not being able to share that part of yourself with your family and friends? Can you imagine that this would’ve been so scandalous that you would live out a facade because that’s just what was acceptable to society?
In my eyes, gay rights and marriage equality draw many parallels to the Civil Rights Movement.
The climate we are in today seems to be growing more and more hateful. All it takes is a listen to the divisive, fear-mongering talk show hosts to understand that….or the Facebook posts or “news” bulletins promoting hatred. All it takes is to watch the news and see people are being killed because they are “different”, whether it be a different religion or income or sexual orientation.
There is so much ignorance and hate in this world…in this country.
So when my 7 and 8 year olds ask me why people are treated this way, how does one explain it? I try my best, but it is hard to make them understand something that I myself do not.
By Karley Ziegler Mott