I attended the Women’s March on the Palouse last weekend. I made 4 hats. They were pink. Different shades, some were striped, but they were pink. There were a lot of other pink hats at the march, and many, many, many pink signs. The majority of these pink signs were Planned Parenthood signs.
I don’t like pink. As a kid, I was much more comfortable in my brother’s hand me down jeans and grub tee shirts. Anything with lace or frills literally made me gag. I cringed when grandma sent my sister and I clothes. They were always matching, and Peggy usually got the blue or green outfit, and I was usually stuck with pink or orange. When I was finally old enough to have my own bedroom, I had my parents paint it blue, with matching blue curtains and a blue floral (I did like flowers) bed spread. I had to wear a dress to school, but in winter they let us wear pants underneath. I liked playing jump rope with the girls, but I also enjoyed hanging upside down on the monkey bars, climbing trees, and kill the guy with the ball. I was a whiz at marbles. I was so grateful when, in 5th grade, we could finally wear pants on Fridays. I was, what they called then, a tomboy. But I was a girl. A girl that did not like pink.
I still don’t like pink, but I do like Planned Parenthood. When I decided to finally become sexually active at age 24 (yes, I was a late bloomer), I was living in Tahoe and working a full time job. I could not make the trip over the mountain passes to access a true medical clinic during normal business hours. I accessed the local Planned Parenthood clinic because I could, and because they were discreet. I did not really want the doctors I was working with professionally to know quite that much about me. I needed birth control, and they provided it. I accessed them again after I moved to Corvallis to be with Jim and they counseled me through options for preventing pregnancy while in South America for the Peace Corps. After we returned, I knew that I would want to be a parent someday. They provided me with birth control, knowledge of how and when to stop it, and advised me to get a heart murmur checked out now with the eventual goal of pregnancy in my future. We moved to Moscow. I was working full time in Pullman, and accessed them again for a pregnancy test. They advised me on local family practice doctors and prenatal vitamins on that wonderful day I found out that Emerald was going to change Jim’s name to Dada. Emerald has used Planned Parenthood exclusively during her young adult life, and this has allowed her to remain STD free and childless at a time in her life that she could ill afford either. After Jim died, it slowly dawned on me, that though I could no longer get pregnant, I did have to think about safe sex if I ever had a partner again. Though I only had 2, they both accessed Planned Parenthood’s STD testing service because I asked them to. Planned Parenthood provides high quality, sliding fee scale, flexible and convenient health care. And yes, they provide safe and legal abortions to those that need them. I don’t like abortion, I like Planned Parenthood, and I don’t like pink.
After the March on Saturday, I accessed social media to view all the other sites where similar Marches were occurring. It was there that I found out that there was a group of women, pro-life women, who were intentionally excluded, and felt marginalized by these organized events. This made me sad. We have so much work to do in this world, we cannot afford to alienate nor exclude anyone. We are women, we are complex individuals living in a complicated, conflicted, and combative world. We need to be gentle with ourselves, and gentle with each other.
- I know women that are against abortion, but have no problem with using birth control.
- I know women that believe abstinence is the best policy prior to marriage, but they don’t banish their adult children that cohabitate from the family.
- I know women that made bad choices in the heat of passion and had options to prevent that bad choice from becoming the rest of their life.
- I know men that take sole responsibility for pregnancy and disease prevention because they’ve been lied to and then scared in the past.
- I know couples where the woman got pregnant, decided to raise the child, and mandated that the father have no more contact, ever with the child…and he agreed.
- I know many men, it you ask him if he ever got a girl pregnant, replies, “not that I know of.”
- I know men that did not find out they were fathers until years after the mother gave birth.
- I know people that believe that life begins at conception, others that believe it is when there is a heart beat.
- I know folks that think it is wrong and fiscally irresponsible to keep very early, very sick babies alive, and doctors and medical technology that continue to make this possible at an earlier and earlier gestational age.
- I know that some doctors that provide abortion are criticized as interfering with God’s will, but those same critics have no problem with in vitro fertilization or c-sections.
- I know women that have been sent home to miscarry in the second trimester, and then 4 weeks later give birth to a viable fetus.
- I know a young man that was the product of a developing country’s abortion (induce labor at 6 months and wait for the baby to die), and this world would be a much poorer place without his soul and humor in it.
- I know families that would have aborted if they had known ahead of time that their child had a disability, but this did not prevent them from then raising this child in love and becoming fierce advocates for her.
- I have sat with a mom while she lost a baby after amniocentesis revealed that her baby was just fine although the prenatal testing picked up a possible problem.
- I know couples that have aborted fetuses due to disability, and then have gone on to conceive and have other children.
- I know folks with genetic conditions that will have children knowing that their child will likely inherit that condition, but also know they will be the best parents for that child.
- I know of babies that have been abandoned at safe havens, and then lovingly adopted. Babies that have been shaken and permanently disabled due to a parent’s inability to care for them. Mothers, in intractable poverty and mental illness, that kill all their children.
I could go on and on, but I have already gone way beyond my self imposed limit for writing a paragraph. I bring up this list because we are a complicated and conflicted society. We cannot become divisive knee jerk one issue people. We owe it to each other to tell our stories, and to listen to each other. We cannot afford to exclude anyone.
I don’t like abortion, but I think family planning has done more to advance the cause of women than any other agenda. Defunding* Planned Parenthood would be like throwing out the baby with the bathwater, and I think most of us agree that would be murder. I can be pro-choice and be pro-life, because I am certainly not pro-death. I stand with Planned Parenthood even though I don’t like pink.