The combination of mass shootings and the continual assaults on women’s access to reproductive health care hit home a few weeks ago, when I attended the grand opening of the new Planned Parenthood office in downtown Brattleboro.
I was frightened that the celebration would be marred by some horrendous act of violence. And still, I went.
I arrived late, and the hallway was packed. I couldn’t hear the first person to speak and thought, briefly, about using that as an excuse to get out. I felt like a fish in a barrel. While there was a police officer stationed inside the door, I thought he’d just be mowed down with the rest of us if a shooter came blazing in.
Nevertheless, and as impolite as it appeared, I threaded my way toward the front so I could hear.
What I heard moved me to tears.
Federal Funding is Gagged.
Due to the Trump-Pence gag rule prohibiting recipients of Title X money from mentioning all current legal medical options for pregnant women, Planned Parenthood has given up this significant source of support rather than comply.
Title X was designed to provide family planning services to low-income women. In addition to family planning, Planned Parenthood provides a wide spectrum of other care, like cancer screenings, treatment for STDs, pregnancy care, and care for general health and wellness. Planned Parenthood has chosen to forgo federal funding in order to continue to provide their patients with all legal medical procedures, including abortion.
State Funding Helps
Thanks to Governor Scott, the State of Vermont has stepped up with financial support to keep Vermont’s Planned Parenthood clinics open, providing critical health care of all types to all comers, regardless of ability to pay. This means that women will still be able receive contraception, the use of which reduces the need for abortion. This is also good news for men, many of whom want to enjoy sexual relations with women without conceiving a child.
Sexuality is Human
Thankfully, there are those who understand that sexuality is part of humanity and that modern medicine has made it possible for a woman to decide if and when to bear a child. Women in Vermont can continue to access a full spectrum of gynecological care without government interference.
An Affront to Free Speech and the Rule of Law
And thanks to these same people for standing up for the First Amendment protection of free speech. The gag rule preventing health care providers from mentioning abortion in the privileged setting of a medical consultation is both a governmental intrusion of privacy as well as an infringement on the right to free speech guaranteed by the US Constitution. It is yet another act of misogynist bullying from a president who shows little concern for the rule of law.
On the Brink of Parity – and yet.
The women who spoke at the grand opening of the new clinic in Brattleboro exercised their right to free speech. Listening to Meagan Gallagher, president of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England was inspiring – and wrenching. It seems as if my entire adult life women have been on the brink of parity – and yet. Some days it seems as if not only have we made no progress toward equal rights, but that – incredibly – we’ve lost ground to the repressive violence of male hegemony – as if the very same men who would deny a woman the right to her own body didn’t participate in human procreation – or the basic tenets of humanity.
The Systematic Repression of Women Must End.
While the possibility of violence from an angry misogynist individual is real, I’m living in greater fear of the continuation of the systematic repression of women. I weep for all the injustices a minority of privileged, mostly white men continue to heap upon the majority of the human race.
Sara Couppas says
I’m thrilled you went to this. It is SO important to support this! Reproductive choice and reproductive health is something we all deserve.
Thank you for discussing this!