February 14, 2019

LIEBERMAN | In Defense of Planned Parenthood

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This was not the column I was expecting to write this week, but in a way, I’ve been ready to write this column my whole college career. I’m the daughter of two scientists, a feminist, a liberal and I’m pro-choice. However, there a lot of other things about me that you might not expect. For example, I also weep and pray at the thought of dead babies. Where the pro-life — or, more accurately, anti-choice — crowd and I differ is I don’t equate abortions with dead babies, and I certainly don’t equate Planned Parenthood with murder either.

This isn’t about me, and to the person who wrote the letter to the editor: I don’t know if you will necessarily care about my health struggles or my fears or even my thoughts, but maybe you can relate to the life of a college student without a lot of money that has yet to settle down and lay the roots of her life. I don’t yet have the stability to establish regular care, but I am beyond grateful to know that Planned Parenthood will be there for me if and when I need to see a professional. I have a personal, vested interest in affordable healthcare, formed by both my experience and that of my family and friends. The accessibility and compassion of their care is an important reason I support Planned Parenthood.

I don’t want to harp too much on the other services that Planned Parenthood provides that the writer of the letter seems inclined to ignore. Because even if Planned Parenthood only provides abortions — full stop — they still would have the right to exist, and a gala on a college campus would still have the right to support them. Not every activity on our college campus needs to be for every single one of us. Some spaces are simply not meant for everyone. I doubt you’ve traced where the rest of your Student Activity Fee, dollar for dollar, has gone toward, and I doubt you’ve attended every single event it has funded. The indignation was uncalled for and simply an excuse to attack and degrade Planned Parenthood and, more specifically, the right for pregnant people to make a choice about their own bodies and their own future.

It’s difficult to explain how much it hurts to hear extreme, anti-abortion, anti-Planned Parenthood rhetoric as someone who loves someone who had an abortion and as someone who loves someone who counts on Planned Parenthood for health care. But I’ve also grown to anticipate this type of hostility.

I don’t want to let these words, like those in the letter, diminish me, but they feel so belittling. To be ripped from my autonomy, to be degraded and villainized in this way, as a pro-choice woman, is damaging. I wish I could brush these comments off like the everyday mansplaining that women face, but I can’t. It’s more serious than that because it’s more ignorant and has more devastating, misogynistic implications.

Anti-choice activists often seem to ignore the struggles, personhood and humanity of women. The fact that women have full lives, full capacity for feeling and thought and the full capability to make decisions on what should happen to their own bodies for themselves. I’ve never seen legislation restricting the autonomy of the white, male body. Pregnant people deserve access to abortions. It’s the law. Having an abortion might not be a choice you would ever make for yourself, which is fair, and I respect that. However, the fact that you let your feelings on extremely personal and individual issue determine whether or not you respect the right of others to make that same decision is appalling.

Next time, recognize when a space isn’t meant for you. Don’t support Planned Parenthood? Then don’t go to this Valentine’s Day gala and enjoy one of the dozens of other campus-wide events. I respect your right to make that choice, and I won’t even bother calling you complicit in murder for refusing to support an organization that saves women’s lives.

Sarah Lieberman is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at slieberman@cornellsun.com. Blueberries for Sal runs every other Tuesday this semester.