From my email inbox comes this account of one Wisconsin family’s experience with Planned Parenthood.
Two young adults walk into a Planned Parenthood near suburban Milwaukee in 2007. Faced with new realities about their future together, the young couple came that day to ask for help in a time of great need.
Neither one of the two had insurance of their own. Recently engaged, they knew their love for one another was real. But they also knew things were about to get very challenging for them.
They came to the clinic to determine if they were pregnant. Upon finding out that they had indeed conceived, they knew their choice was clear: in their view, there wasn’t any other choice they could make.
They chose not to terminate the pregnancy.
More than four years later, they have a healthy son together, and remain a family.
This story isn’t uncommon for many families across the country. The perception of Planned Parenthood is that it’s nothing more than an “abortion mill,” that it exists solely for the termination of embryos or fetuses, and that any funding they receive goes towards these services.
Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, abortion accounts for less than three percent of all the services Planned Parenthood provides for its clients. Think about the significance there: for every three women who do choose to have an abortion, 97 other clients walk into the doors of a Planned Parenthood seeking help in some other way — a health screening, some helpful advice, low-priced contraceptives, or some other service.
The money they receive from government isn’t going towards abortions, either. Planned Parenthood applies for grants that are required by law to be handled with the utmost scrutiny. And since it’s illegal for any taxpayer dollars to go towards an abortion, none of the funds from those grants do so.
That couple from 2007 came in to find out if they were pregnant. They also came to find ways that they could get insured. They were advised to join the BadgerCare program in Wisconsin, that it was a good stepping stone for now, until the college-aged couple could find promising employment with health benefits they could contribute towards themselves.
Today, that couple has such benefits. They have a healthy young boy whom they cherish immensely. They live a not-so-glamorous life, but promising nonetheless, ready to tackle the idea of the American dream head-on.
But they could never have imagined what could have been had they been on their own from the start. Yes, they had help from family. And the state, too, aided them with their insurance.
The first place they went to, however, was a Planned Parenthood. And it helped get their bearings straight. From that point, they knew where to go to, who to count on for help. And the couple knew, when they needed more help, they were always welcome to come back.
When comments like Sen. Glenn Grothman’s (R-West Bend) come out criticizing the organization, it’s not really surprising. The far-right conservative seems like nothing more than a loud-mouth panderer, working towards appeasing the lowest common denominator of his constituents. How he retains his seat in the legislature is baffling — mainly because he’s an embarrassment to the state, grabbing national headlines with his callous remarks on race and women’s rights.
His latest comments on Planned Parenthood, that it’s a modern-day racist organization with a troubling history, are laughable. The organization today is lauded as being as anti-racist as one can get. Even Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Civil Rights leader of his time and icon to this day, felt compelled to praise Planned Parenthood when they bestowed an honor onto him in 1966 — for “his courageous resistance to bigotry and his lifelong dedication to the advancement of social justice and human dignity.”
Of the Civil Rights and family planning movements, King wrote:
“…we are natural allies of those who seek to inject any form of planning in our society that enriches life and guarantees the right to exist in freedom and dignity.
For these constructive movements we are prepared to give our energies and consistent support; because in the need for family planning, Negro and white have a common bond; and together we can and should unite our strength for the wise preservation, not of races in general, but of the one race we all constitute — the human race.”
Whatever the past of Planned Parenthood may be — truthful or exaggerated — it’s current incarnation serves a myriad of peoples, white, black, Asian, Latino, you name it. It doesn’t turn a soul away from its doors. If you’re a person with a health need, chances are the people at Planned Parenthood will do their best to help you through it.
Dr. King recognized the good that the organization did for the world. So, too, did that young, scared couple in 2007.
There are some who come to the clinics seeking to terminate pregnancies — that is an individual right that should not be tampered with. But it’s also an insignificant portion of what Planned Parenthood does for hundreds of communities across our nation. Thousands, perhaps millions, depend on this organization to help them, to deliver them health services that they can’t get elsewhere.
Critics like Sen. Glenn Grothman who marginalize the importance of Planned Parenthood, who ignorantly call it a “racist” organization, do a disservice to the communities they represent, and truly exhibit the idiocy of their knowledge base.