Women’s health shouldn’t suffer over abortion debate

I once had a boyfriend who seemed like a great person, until I found out he was being a great person with many women and, after dumping him, I thought, “Maybe he’s not clean…”

Sometimes that question lingers in our minds, and we make the phone call to a community health center or Planned Parenthood to get tested. We know resources exist. A pleasant receptionist will assuage our nerves, asking us to read educational material lying on the magazine-littered coffee table.

You won’t want to pick it up at first, but by the end of the 15 minute wait, you’re on the backside of it looking at contact info. Doctors are prepared to deal with any reactions you may have to their news, and you feel safe, knowing that this is what they do on a daily basis, despite the protesters outside of their doors.

Reproductive health is an issue we cannot allow to be shelved. According to Stanford University’s Sexual Health Peer Resource Center, “An estimated one in four college students has a sexually transmitted disease.” In 2008 alone, 1.4 million young women sat in clinics to receive emergency contraception. Roughly 1.1 million more took pregnancy tests.

Planned Parenthood has the means to provide reduced fees for pap smears for women, including college students who may not have the health insurance coverage to do so. This is relevant. This is real.

Now imagine a world where there is no number to dial when you miss your period. Or maybe your girlfriend forgot to take a pill of her birth control and you’re both really worried.

Where is your sanctuary? And what will happen if it is taken away? These are questions that have become pressing in the past few weeks.

Rep. Mike Pence, R-Ind., added an amendment to the U.S. House budget passed in February that completely gutted funding for Title X, a program that has provided resources to reproductive health centers since Nixon’s administration, prior to Roe v. Wade.

Conservative Republicans have pushed to cut Title X funding under the guise of reducing spending. However, research shows that for every dollar invested in reproductive services, four are saved toward Medicaid costs.

The other possibility, of course, is that organizations that are trying to strip Title X of its funding are doing so out of some crusade against abortion. But Title X funding allows millions of women to receive cancer screenings, health exams, contraceptives, and yes, on occasion, abortions.

Only three percent of funding in Planned Parenthood goes toward abortions. Thirty-four percent goes toward testing and treatment of STDs, 35 percent to contraception, and another 17 percent toward cancer screenings.

When Rep. Pence and those who support him take aim at abortion funding, they will also take out numerous other women’s health services, like taking an axe to do a scalpel’s work. Apparently, this doesn’t concern them.

Title X funding helps not only Planned Parenthood, but also smaller, independent community-based clinics throughout the United States.

Economic viability is not an issue. Besides the precedent of the United States Constitution, what argument does the opposition have to legislate our vaginas?

Morality can be thrown in, ruthlessness can be painted across signs, but I can assure you, no girl walks into a clinic emotionally prepared to get an abortion. No woman isn’t grateful to be screened for breast cancer.

We cannot allow pro-life politicians with legislative agendas often grounded in the faiths and moral obligations particular to a small minority to take away our rights and our health services. Whatever religious ideologies exist against the pro-choice argument have no foundation in any law.

According to the National Institute for Health, 78,000 women would die a year from unsafe abortions without funding. These women are not irresponsible. In fact, only 3 percent of women who undergo abortion procedures use no contraceptives.

I suspect I’m preaching to the choir by writing to Emerson, but sometimes I wonder — do we forget about our basic rights until an emergency occurs? We shouldn’t have to. You can take action by getting in touch with your local reproductive rights advocacy groups. Call your senator. Add a #choosechoice hashtag on Twitter while Tweeting at Boehner.

We have to do more than wear tee shirts sloganed with “I Love Vaginas.” We need to defend them.