Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Purpose of Planned Parenthood

Source: CBC News: Tories Defunding Planned Parenthood, MP says

I realize the blog has gone a bit dark as of late, in terms of posting not in terms of content, and I apologize for that. With finals over, I will have a bit more time to throw up posts on the blog. However, I will take an absence after the 2nd of May, due to being indisposed at the time. As such, if you're looking for an election recap and reflections from me, it will be some time after the election is held.

With that small bit of housekeeping taken care of, I shall now get to the purpose of this post. It was announced today that Saskatoon-Humboldt MP Brad Trost announced to the Saskatchewan ProLife Association that the government was planning to strip Planned Parenthood of their $18 million dollar operating grant from the government, and that it was the petitions signed by people like them that helped make that happen.

Officially, the Conservatives haven't announced anything about funding for Planned Parenthood.

Now, I'm mentioning this topic for a number of reasons. One, since I've moved to Saskatoon, I have been 'represented' (a term I use INCREDIBLY loosely) by Mr. Trost in the House of Commons. Secondly, this is a direct contradiction to what Harper had said weeks ago about letting same-sex marriage and abortion issues lay where they are if his party wins a majority government.

As I mentioned when I talked about that, I said there were a number of backbench MPs I believed existed in the Conservative Party who would not take the leader's advice and would pursue these issues anyways. Brad Trost was my number one choice to raise this banner, given that he's more or less known for abandoning Harper's attempts to appear centrist in order to appease social conservatives.

After all, who could forget when he condemned Diane Ablonczy for funding Toronto's gay pride parade and state that this was the straw that pushed for her to lose control of the tourism and development fund that her department oversaw?

Now, I've more or less stayed out of the abortion debate for as long as I've operated this blog. I think I'm about to wade into it...for better or for worse.

I don't think I would shock anyone if I said that I was pro-choice. Frankly, I'm not a woman and I would never find myself in the situation of considering whether or not to have an abortion. I can't even imagine what it would be like to be in that situation. But the truth of the matter is that there are women who find themselves in that situation every day.

And as someone who hasn't been in the situation, I feel almost hypocritical trying to tell the people who will be in this situation how it should play out. It's a sense of hypocrisy that is apparently lost on Mr. Trost, and other male Conservative MPs.

But, to tell you the truth, I don't think this is an issue over human life at all. While I do believe that there are those in the Conservative campaign who support the so-called 'sanctity of human life', I believe that there are others to whom this is not even the concern. Rather, this is an attempt to do two things:

1.) It is an attempt to reinforce classic patriarchal stereotypes in our society

2.) It is an attempt to control human behaviour

Allow me to expand on both of those points.

Conservatives always talk about the good old days. The days when men were men and 'women' were 'women'. What exactly does that mean anyways?

Well, given that I've known a few people who like the good ole' days, it means returning to a time when women knew their place. When women stayed at home, looked after the house and the children, and made damn sure that husband had a warm meal and a drink waiting for him when he came home from work.

I feel the need to point out a phrase I've heard before, though I can't remember where: The good ole' days were not that good for everyone.

Conservatives will attempt of course to tell you that they have no intention of rolling back the clock on women's liberation and the effect that feminism has had in the 21st Century...But their actions don't really suggest this.

The fact that most of the staunchest anti-abortion Conservatives are men should tell you something. Well, actually it tells you two things. Firstly, that we need more women involved in the political process. And secondly, that these are all men who are attempting to tell women what they can and can't do.

As mentioned, a few of them probably believe that they are protecting human life, but I think the bulk of them just want a return to 'normality' when a woman could be told what was in her best interest by powerful men in their lives.

The Conservatives have even attempted to claim this argument to their side, suggesting that the majority of women who have abortions are pressured into them by the father or their father or other dominant men in their lives. But by having a bunch of middle age men telling women that abortion needs to be outlawed is no better. It is restricting the choice of women to decide what is right for them and their situation.

It is another case of men forcing women into a position simply for the man to feel like the man.

Which brings us to my second point. I've already touched a bit about how Conservatives are trying to force women back into a patriarchal system where their choices are limited, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.

Conservatives, despite their idea that their should be social freedom to do as one pleases without the government stepping in, are hellbent on controlling the lives of Canadians. Allow me to explain.

This is a government that set the topic of women's and maternal health as a key issue during the G8/G20, and were lambasted by the international community for refusing to acknowledge contraception and abortion within these issues.

So, Conservatives are against abortion...But they're also against contraception. What does that tell us?

It tells us that what Conservatives are really against is an issue as old as time: sex as pleasure.

Another staple of them 'good ole' days' the Conservatives seem to want to return us to is a time of simpler morals and virtues. Like when Ricky Ricardo couldn't say Lucy was 'pregnant', she was 'expecting'. A time when mom and dad didn't share a bed on television, but had two beds in the same room.

Effectively, the Conservatives are against sexual expression. Their opposition to homosexuality should be enough proof of this, but apparently we need more to conclude this. So, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I present this as my argument:

Planned Parenthood provides more than just 'abortion services'. In fact, Planned Parenthood doesn't even provide abortions. Rather, Planned Parenthood provides information for women who are seeking abortions. They can arrange for contact with a doctor who can perform the operation, and provide counseling both before and after the procedure.

Furthermore, Planned Parenthood provides more than just these services. They provide counseling on HIV, on safe sex, on adoption, and on family planning services as well. Planned Parenthood is designed to ensure that a person, mostly young women, are ready to start a family and have the information they need to make the best choice for themselves.

But accepting Planned Parenthood as an organization seems to accept a concept that the Conservatives want to refuse: (You may want to avert your eyes) Teenagers are having sex.

Shocking, I know.

Effectively, in my humble opinion, the Conservative rejection of Planned Parenthood is an attempt to legislate the behaviour of teenagers and force them to avoid pre-marital sex. After all, even if Planned Parenthood didn't provide abortion services, the Conservatives would still attack them for providing contraception and details on how to have safe sex.

The fact of the matter is, I don't think we've ever had a world where teenagers weren't engaging in some form of sexual relations. For the better of part of a few centuries, we were marrying off women as young as 13 for the sake of political alliances after all...

The only thing that has changed is that now it is the children themselves deciding to engage in these actions. And the fact that all of us over the age of 18 have to accept is that children are going to do what they're going to do. The best thing we can do is explain the risks, provide the facts, and encourage them to do the right thing.

That's what Planned Parenthood does. They accept that we can't control what children and teenagers are going to do; but they acknowledge that we have a responsibility to arm them with information to make the right choices. Yes, it would perhaps be ideal if our children waited until they were in love before having sexual relations...But how many of us can say that that was the situation we experienced?

I'm sure less than half of those espousing these views can make that claim.

The fact of the matter is this: The Conservative war against Planned Parenthood is two-fold. One, it is an attempt to restrict the choices of women in favour of patriarchy. Two, it is an attempt to control the actions of teenagers and others throughout the nation, despite preaching about individual freedom and liberty.

By robbing today's youth of information that can prevent abortions and higher rates of STI infection, the Conservatives are choosing to ignore the root of the problem. They're not seeing the forest for the trees, if you will.

People are going to have sex, regardless of whether or not their parents want them to. And as I've said, the best thing we can do is promote organizations that encourage those who are engaging in sexual relations to do so in a safe and smart manner.

Given that Saskatoon's HIV rate exploded this last year, and there is still no real strategy from the Federal or Provincial Government to combat this, the dismantling of Planned Parenthood is only going to contribute to higher rates of HIV infection. And higher rates of HIV infection impact us all, if only because it increases the strain on the health care system. Therefore, it's better for us to be proactive than reactive.

And that brings me to the conclusion of this post...I'm worried I may have rambled too much and not made enough sense in the above paragraphs. I hope that isn't the case, but time will tell. Which is why I'm going to carefully choose my closing.

There was a movie released a few years ago now called Vera Drake. It dealt with England early in the 20th Century, at a time when abortions were still illegal in the UK. Despite this, a housewife named Vera Drake provided abortions to women. 'Helping girls out' she called it. Of course, one of the girls she helps dies because of the unsafe practice Mrs. Drake used in the process.

Why do I mention this?

I mention it because the outlawing of something does not make it disappear. In fact, it makes the problem that much worse. Illegal drugs have been outlawed for years, yet they continue to find their way onto the streets. In many cases, these drugs are poorly mixed or 'cut' and pose a significant health risk to the person who uses them.

The same will be true of abortion. Women who want or need an abortion are still going to find ways to get them.

Yorkton-Melville MP Garry Breitkreuz liked to tell me about how he introduced a bill that would be 'a right to know'; that would detail the complications abortion could have on a woman years after having one. So, Conservatives it seem admit that there's a risk in abortions. Imagine the risk when it's performed by someone with no medical knowledge in a back alley or a van or a hotel room or god knows where instead of an operating room.

Well, with Planned Parenthood gone the odds of that happening increase. And with a Conservative Majority, and the likes of Trost and Breitkreuz, a woman's right to choose will disappear; but abortions will not, and who knows what the consequences will be.


Anonymous said...

Well, for someone wading into the abortion debate for the first time, I'd say you've pretty much nailed it. You are wise beyond your years (and your gender ;)).

Anonymous said...

Even if Trost is against a woman's right to choose, at least he supports gay rights:

Scott said...

1.) Thanks for the compliment.

2.) Given that this comment has appeared verbatim on other left wing blogs, I think we have a spammer in our midst.

And Brad Trost does not support gay rights. Mr. Trost voted, back when Harper was first elected in 2006, to re-open the debate on same-sex marriage.

He condemned Diane Albonczy for providing funding to Toronto's Gay Pride Parade, and as I mentioned in the post, suggested that this funding was responsible for her losing oversight of a tourism and development fund in favour of Tony Clement's Industry Department.

From what I have access to from NEUTRAL sources, Mr. Trost's voting record on supporting gay rights does not match his actions.

So, thanks for trying to defend him, but the facts say much differently.

Scott said...

^My apologies for the rant...

I forgot this website existed as a means of 'attacking' Trost's record on gay rights.

At first glance, I assumed it was Trost's MP website...And personally, I feel a bit morally dirty when browsing conservative websites...That and it's not good for my blood pressure.

My apologies for the joke going over my head.