Gals, Think With Your Lady Parts

It's time, ladies. I am suggesting to all my patients and friends that it is time for women to start thinking with their Lady Parts.

confident woman

When women talk about a man's bad behavior they'll often say he's thinking with his D*ck. This is precisely how I feel about our new President's intention to "dismantle Planned Parenthood." In response, I am suggesting to all my patients and friends that it is time for women to start thinking with their Lady Parts. What better issue could our Lady Parts champion than access to contraception and sexual health care?

The idea of eliminating Title 10 funding based on pro-life politics feels disturbingly sinister, at the very least. Approximately 75 percent of patients who rely on Planned Parenthood for care are low-income people. And while a few of Planned Parenthood sites do provide abortion services, many do not. In fact, Planned Parenthood reports that 97 percent of the care they provide is not specific to abortion but is does include other "Pro-Life" services such as PAP smears, HIV prevention education and testing, basic GYN care and mammograms. 

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Our President and Vice President's "Throwing-the-Baby-out-With-Bath-Water" approach has raised my index of suspicion of one or all of the following motives: a war on low-income Americans; a poorly informed effort to reduce the abortion rate below its current lowest rate ever; a desire for involvement in people's sex lives (Yuck, what a thought!); or all of the above.

Should Planned Parenthood funding end, then millions of low income people will not have access to reproductive and sexual health care at all. The outcome will be catastrophic and the impact of that catastrophe will largely be shouldered by poor women and their kids.

At present, it is estimated that over 45 percent of all pregnancies in the United States are unintended. These are the result of either a method failure or because of not having contraception in the first place. In either case, pregnancy can be both expensive and risky to a woman. This is especially true for low-income women who are more likely to be in poor health when starting a pregnancy. 

My experience has shown me that poor women often end up bearing the burden of unintended pregnancy and then caring for their kids with little physical or financial support. With few social programs being funded and low contributions from partners, poor women are often left on their own to make ends meet. In order to stop this from recurring, access to affordable and effective contraception is paramount.  Unfortunately, the reality in medicine is that women with more money are on the receiving end of more and better care. This, includes greater access to effective
contraception.

The truth is health care providers, by and large, prefer caring for wealthier white women and earn more money doing so. Compare the salaries of clinicians who work for Planned Parenthood to those who work in a private or hospital-based practice. Folks that are on the front lines in a Title 10 clinic are activists who understand and deeply sympathize with what can and does happen to the poor if they don't have access to care. Should the President succeed in "Dismantling Planned Parenthood" he will create greater disadvantages to the very constituents he appealed to during his campaign.

I encourage you to let your Lady Parts help you think about what a poor woman faces when it comes to childbearing and parenting. Think about how burdensome it must be to face an unintended pregnancy simply because you could not access effective contraception, or your personal values don't allow for a termination of pregnancy.

Then, imagine what could happen to you should you be in the position of having lost your job and health insurance at the same time that your prescription for the pill is about to run out. My guess is if you do, you'll better understand the importance of not dismantling Planned Parenthood, at least not before you get to the one nearest you.