We often defend Planned Parenthood by saying that abortion only accounts for 3%-5% of the services offered. We often defend Planned Parenthood by saying that there is no federal funding for abortion. We often defend Planned Parenthood’s distribution and support of general use of, birth control by citing alternative reasons people would use it (menopause, endometriosis, alleviation of severe menstrual symptoms, etc.). Indeed, there are many additional benefits of using birth control. All of the above is, in fact, true, both in substance and in that they are frequently implemented. But, could pro-choicers accidentally be giving the wrong message, or the right message in the wrong form?
In the championing of bodily autonomy, we champion reproductive justice–justice because of intersecting identities, justice because we must fight vigilantly to obtain an unassailable right actively being withheld, justice because not all those it is being withheld from are acknowledged as such. In fighting for reproductive justice, and in dismissing huge aspects of it as “only” or “but,” we’re not giving the full story. Some aspects cannot be downplayed in favor off other, less-comfortable facts to coddle the public into a consensus. Is that 3% of abortion services less important? Certainly not! So why, when we defend Planned Parenthood, is that 3% often made akin to a footnote?
The logical answer is that in the face of the 2016 presidential election advocates must appeal to masses that are misinformed by anti-choice propaganda or less informed as to what Planned Parenthood is or does, to promote Planned Parenthood while the conversation is so visible. Which, as a stand-alone, is a great idea to implement. Some information needs to not be given all at once lest those we are trying to inform become overwhelmed and remove themselves from a potentially effective discussion. Again, in contrast, the full picture needs to be put on display for the very same reason: Planned Parenthood is at risk of being fully defunded now more than ever.
This is the same for the discussion of contraceptives. Is the fact that contraceptive pills, and alternative contraceptive methods like Intra-Uterine Devices (IUD), are used to prevent pregnancy less important, or merely a footnote in the long list of benefits of taking hormonal birth control? Certainly not. Though we are aware of this, we’re not stating such in the manner we, under any circumstances, should be. As much as it may seem that perhaps the more conservatively-sensitive aspects should be played down lest Planned Parenthood be defunded and any semblance of bodily autonomy snatched away more than it already has been, I disagree. With the current sex-ed protocol in many states requiring abstinence-only education, and the legality of giving students in sex-ed classes misinformation (using birth control causes breast cancer, condoms do not have a 99% success rate of preventing pregnancy, among others), the time to talk about the ability to prevent pregnancy–not just the ability to relieve menstrual cramps–is now, during the presidential race. Like abortion, the general public widely holds misconceptions about contraceptives.
Younger people are expected to make up a large demographic of voters in the 2016 election. To make informed choices, they need to be properly informed.