"Ain't nobody wanna save her life?"
16 Dec 2005
This morning I dragged myself out of bed before dawn to be at Planned Parenthood at 7:30AM and wait in the freezing morning shade until 9:00 for my annual exam. At 9:30, myself and the 25 other women (of color. of course) grumbled in solidarity and confusion, wondering why we were still waiting and shivering. Finally an employee opened the doors and corralled us inside just to inform us that there would be no walk-in exams today. Or tomorrow. Or ever. Are you kidding me? I thought. Nope. No joke.
Turns out the good olâ boys at the Texas state legislature cut Planned Parenthood's funding by almost 40% last Friday. The Texas Department of State Health Services âreallocatedâ more than $12 million in state family planning funds, according to Planned Parenthood. I stood in the office stunned while 3 mothers began to cry. Another women, at least 65 years old, turned to me and asked, "que dijo?" what did she say?
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As I tried to explain what I still didnât understand, I began to feel my anger swell. Overnight one of the safest, most reliable, most critical social services vanished. All patients over 24 years old have to find new clinics, all birth control now costs $25/month, all annuals $125, all pregnancy tests $30. I stood waiting for the chance of one more pack of birth control pills, asking questions answered with shrugs and apologies, watching faces full of desperation. When my name was called I tried again to get more information, but the fact was clear and simple: accessible family planning and women's reproductive rights are not a priority. I was reminded of a poignant song lyric by The Coup, âPreacher man wanna save my soul, ainât nobody wanna save my lifeâ. I left with a pack of pills after giving all my $35, sat in my car and cried.
Here's the kicker. Texas lawmakers are promoting crisis pregnancy centers instead. Claudia Stravato, chief executive officer at PPATP (Planned Parenthood of Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle), remarked Thursday, "The cuts were attached to the finance bill as riders. The whole intent of these riders was to close down Planned Parenthoods across the state. They are intent on busting family planning clinics and giving the money to entities that promote pregnancy." That's right, slash funding for sexual health and preventive services and create crisis centers. This country is a crisis center. And soon already full emergency rooms will attempt to deal with the consequences of this crisis in the forms of unwanted pregnancies and late-term, preventable sexual diseases. Or maybe women will finally learn and stop having and provoking sexual relations, though this may upset the many men who struggled for hours to get viagra covered by their HMOâs.
I want to see those lawmakers walk into clinics all over this state and have the guts to tell a room full of women, "sorry, go home and buy condoms" or "sorry, god willed those children and you're on your own to figure out the rest". I want them to watch women lose the thread of hope they were gripping.
So now what? Write letters and make phone calls? I donât think so. The truth is I donât know what to do. I do know nothing will be done if people donât know. So start talking with one another, start talking to the women in your lives. Call Planned Parenthood and ask what you can do.