By Abbey Seltzer
Majority of the country was oblivious to the news of the federal government nearly shutting down last month. What was the problem? The Republican-led Congress didn’t want to fund Planned Parenthood on the grounds the agency performs abortions.
What our esteemed Congress neglects to mention is that no federal funds are used for abortions. The Hyde Amendment, signed into law in 1976 following the Supreme Court case Roe v. Wade, prohibits it.
Even with 75 women in Congress, 360 men speak the loudest in “women’s rights” laws, especially those restricting women’s healthcare.
The recent stalemate over Planned Parenthood is one instance. Why should men decide what rights women have?
Congress’ slashing of Planned Parenthood funds reduced the number of women able to receive healthcare. Not abortions, but routine medical care. This includes pap smears and mammograms, both are recommended yearly for women over sixteen or earlier if they are sexually active.
If a woman is afraid or unwilling to tell her parents she needs these exams or is unable to afford them, Planned Parenthood enables them to receive such care.
In addition, it provides contraception, STD/STI testing and treatment, cancer screening and prevention and information about reproductive health. But what sends conservative lawmakers into a tizzy is only one service that it provides, neglecting the good the organization does for women and women’s health.
The men sitting in their plush Capitol Hill offices aren’t at the pediatrician’s with a pregnant 16-year-old girl, but can’t tell her family and can’t bring the baby to term. Nor are they in the university dorms where a 20-something woman is holding a pink stick in one hand, but needs to focus on her midterm in seven hours. And they are definitely not there when a 30-something woman realizes she doesn’t want to have a baby, at least not now and not with her current partner.
How many teenage girls in the Bible Belt are afraid to go to their mothers for sexual education? How many are unable to ask for contraceptives because they can’t ask their female role models? How many are having unprotected sex that results in an STD or STI because of the lack of knowledge or available prevention?
Three percent of Planned Parenthood health services are abortions. This is written on the organization’s website. The money for these services is purely from donations, not from the government. But do the men on Capitol Hill care?
Most politicians who are against abortions and social programs like Planned Parenthood oppose it for “moral reasons” or religious beliefs. Which are all fine and dandy in the church, but not in a free, democratic government.
Look at the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the Constitution, prohibiting Congress from mandating or legislating religious beliefs. Why then can it legally insert its point of view into laws that govern the country?
Does religion belong in politics? I don’t want someone else’s religion governing my country—or me. But most importantly, I don’t want anyone else, especially some man who has never and will never know me, to decide what I can and cannot do with my body.