Thursday, March 1, 2012
Defending Women's Choices
I can’t pretend to be neutral about Planned Parenthood, or women’s health, for that matter, and my conversation with Gary Dougherty, Legislative Director for Planned Parenthood Affiliates of Ohio, probably shows that. I believe that women should have access to good health care – well, everyone should – regardless of their income, and that includes access to contraception. I wish that no woman was ever raped, ever had her contraception fail, or ever made a mistake and didn’t use it when she should have. But I’m realistic, and I want women to have the option of having an abortion if necessary. Those are my views, not those of any of the organizations that support my work, and I stand by them. So I was encouraged to hear Gary talk about the work he and his colleagues are doing to protect women’s access to affordable health care, contraception, and yes, abortion.
And as Gary suggested, the most troubling part of recent debates about providing health insurance that includes contraceptives is that just beneath the surface seems to be the desire by a few to reduce or even eliminate contraceptives for everyone. Not just for those who think it’s morally wrong, but for everyone else, too. As I explain to students in my women’s studies courses, reliable contraception made a huge difference in women’s ability to make choices about their own lives. Many choose to have children. Some, like me, choose not to. But we only get to make these choices because we have access to care and the right to make choices about our health.