I only really knew how passionate I was about women’s rights when I left for college. Although I go to a moderately liberal university, I opened my eyes to new groups of people living in my overcrowded Freshman dorm in Washington, D.C. I had never met people who didn’t believe in the same equality that I always believed and was taught was a right. It was these little moments of clarification that helped me to realize and understand the discrepancies in our society. I knew I wanted to be a part of the movement.
A resident of southern Massachusetts and a proud advocate for women’s rights, I decided that my time would be more worthwhile working towards reproductive equality in a state with a Republican governor and Republican-controlled State Senate instead of in my liberal bubble of a town. There is so much work to be done: I didn’t want to watch the news, I wanted to control it. So I applied to be a Public Affairs Intern at the Planned Parenthood Maine Action Fund in Portland, Maine. A few weeks after applying, I packed up my car and moved north. I had never been to Maine and was excited to get to know the area and to learn more about the community of Mainers and how they feel about reproductive rights. In times like this, advocating for reproductive justice is especially serious work.
I’m working on a number of projects, including our efforts to stop the gag rule. If you haven’t heard about the proposed gag rule, here’s a quick recap: the gag rule will affect Title X providers including Planned Parenthood. Title X is the nation’s largest family planning program; through Title X, 4 million people each year have access to vital healthcare services from family planning and STD testing and treatment to cancer screenings and annual exams.
The gag rule would make it impossible for patients to seek care at Planned Parenthood force doctors to withhold information about abortion from their patients. Providers will also be prevented from referring people for abortion care.
Politics aside, don’t we all agree that every patient should have access to the best medical care possible? Does this not include providing them with all of the information necessary to make decisions about their own bodies?
The gag rule is a swift way to devastate health care not only for women but for any patient who benefits from the services of Planned Parenthood. It’s opposed by major medical associations like the American Medical Association, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, and the American College of Physicians, along with 73% of Americans.
Throughout my internship, I have been given many opportunities to talk with Planned Parenthood patients and supporters. I have heard countless stories of heartbreak, survivorship, and frustration, ones that mirror my own thoughts and others that shed light on issues that I have not thought about as much. But they all boil down to the same thing: Planned Parenthood is non-judgemental affordable healthcare for all, an organization that sees about 44% of Title X patients in Maine and has helped my own friends and family stay healthy.
What lawmakers fail to see is that by targeting Planned Parenthood, and other reproductive healthcare providers, they are targeting our rights to lead healthy reproductive lives.
Feeling upset about the gag rule? Say something! Submit a comment to fight back against these provisions and ensure safe and affordable healthcare for all.