Among relics I keep in my father’s memory is his well-worn medical bag. It evokes images of this small-town doctor making house calls, opening his door to all without appointment and working pro-bono in treating those who could not pay.
My father liked President Eisenhower. In 1960 he was not particularly fond of the newly elected President Kennedy. Like Eisenhower, he strongly supported Planned Parenthood. Both Dad and Ike would be appalled at how today’s Republican Party has lurched to the extreme right. Both would abhor its malicious attacks on Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood is the nation’s largest provider of health care to low-income women and families. It focuses primarily on contraception, STD prevention, and potentially life-saving cancer screening. Legal abortions within defined limits have been the law of the land since 1973, but abortion still constitutes only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s activities.
Those who attack Planned Parenthood target abortion exclusively. Their singular focus trumps all other issues impacting children and families. They ignore health care, education, the environment and reasonable gun control. They appear disinterested in equitable taxation to sustain a civilized, compassionate society. Such a society embraces not only children, but the poor and elderly as well.
Women’s health and family planning have everything to do with viable family budgets and helping people rise out of poverty. Reproductive health gives women the option to raise a family or pursue a career, or both. It allows them to do so at a time and in a manner of their choice.
In this era of bitter ideological polemic on the right, some Republicans find it obligatory to attack Planned Parenthood solely on abortion, a tiny component of its comprehensive health services. Ironically, they don’t seem to grasp this: The single factor leading to most abortions is unplanned parenthood.