The words they used were barely that, just sounds really, letters dumped in a sack and poured across a board in hopes of scoring big points, bigly even better. They stood behind me, separated by 10 feet of distance and a white picket fence that seemed more decorative than restraining, waving flags and bibles and mistaking each for the other. Their soapboxes only metaphors, mixed with ignorance and irony.
I was seated at a table in the back of a grassy area, eating a vegetarian wrap and wondering which was pinkest, my freshly shorn head, hatless on a sunny day, or the nearly neon t-shirt I had been given to celebrate the Planned Parenthood event I was attending. I was in Sacramento, at the California State Capitol, to speak with members of the legislature about Planned Parenthood and the funding it had been allotted—funding, that at the time of this writing, has yet to be received.
The protestors, it seems, were there to share their own truths, which, unfortunately, were based on the obvious lack of it, and also to damn us all to hell (the faster the better). They heckled the assorted speakers—state lawmakers and Planned Parenthood representatives—with frothing insults, exercising their rights even as they tried to deny those of others. They were there to intimidate, and, frankly, in my case, it worked.
Fortunately, most of those in attendance were made of sturdier stuff, or at the very least, had experienced loosely organized hatred before. I, however, am a parfait of privilege, layer upon layer of fragile male whiteness and decent health insurance, never needing to break through a line of people that hate me because I seek medical care. Rather than join in supportive chants and the constant calisthenics required for endless Senator selfies, I spent the entirety of the protest (which didn’t last long) wondering if someone was going to attack us, watching their movements, their bags, and their spittle fly in frames of slow motion just above the picket.
There is a reason that Planned Parenthood has to assign a large portion of its budget to security, despite the money being desperately needed elsewhere, and that reason walks loudly among us.
The fight is in the Senate, and you can help.
Never mind that Planned Parenthood provides numerous other forms of medical care and counseling (including some for men), much of which actually results in lowering the need for abortion. Never mind that Planned Parenthood has provided services to women we know, even if we don’t know it, and that many of them, were they to deem it anybody’s business, would most likely state that the experience saved their life. Never mind that Planned Parenthood is the only real option that many women have.
Planned Parenthood does not focus primarily on abortions, but a variety of care, moreover, they are not the only organization that provides abortions, despite societal ignorance suggesting the contrary. This, unfortunately, means nothing to the people at the fence.
But it means something to me. It means something to Dads 4 Change.
We are an organization fighting for the best possible future for our children, and while our emphasis is on social good and education, we have lately found ourselves in the political thick, because politics is where the fight is.
The fight is for gender equality (all equality, really). The fight is for women having control over their own bodies, and the rights thereof.
The fight is in the Senate, and you can help. Ask your Senators to vote against the AHCA (American Health Care Act, a misnomer if there ever was one).
Consider the facts:
- Blocks low-income patients from receiving health care at Planned Parenthood health centers: Every year, 2.5 million women, men, and young people rely on Planned Parenthood for essential health care services, like birth control and lifesaving cancer screenings. Many of these people, particularly those in rural areas and medically underserved areas, will have nowhere else to turn to for care if Planned Parenthood health centers are forced to close their doors.
- Eliminates protections for the millions with pre-existing conditions: By removing the community rating provision, insurers would be allowed to once again charge people with pre-existing conditions an exorbitant amount for coverage.
- Discriminates against women: Despite the fact that the proposal claims to maintain the current prohibition on gender rating, it still allows insurers to once again discriminate against women . Eliminating the community rating provision disproportionately affects women –insurers can claim having given birth, having had a C-section, or having been a survivor of domestic violence is a so-called pre-existing condition.
- Eliminates maternity coverage, newborn care and other Essential Health Benefits (EHB) coverage standards: The bill guts the Essential Health Benefits provision, which requires the majority of health plans to cover services like maternity and newborn care, mental health services, and prescription drugs. Approximately 13 million women who gained access to maternity coverage under the ACA stand to lose their coverage.
- Forces new mothers with Medicaid coverage to find work shortly after giving birth: The bill gives states the option to impose work requirements as a condition of obtaining Medicaid coverage. It also gives states the ability to revoke Medicaid from new mothers if they don’t find work within 60 days of giving birth.
- Kicks millions of women and men off their insurance: The CBO reports that 24 million people will lose coverage over the next 10 years, 14 million of which will lose Medicaid coverage due to the bill’s measures to kick people off of Medicaid. Not to mention, the end of Medicaid expansion and an overall gutting of the program.
- One more fact:
THE AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT IS THE WORST BILL FOR WOMEN’S HEALTH IN A GENERATION
We stand with Planned Parenthood, because of the above, and a lot more. The fact is, we here at Dads 4 Change are men, and to compound that, we are each raising two more men in our respective homes. We are also unabashed feminists. We believe that each of us, regardless of label, should be an ally to the other. That’s how the world gets better. That’s the best possible future I was talking about.
On a personal note, I was raised in a time and place where words like “feminism” were either followed by spit or laughter. Differences, be they gender, ethnicity, education or other, were meant to be mocked, not celebrated, and upon reflection, my own path from there often feels more escape than evolution. A quick look on Facebook suggests that too many of my peers were not so lucky. They assimilated into the narrative of their environment. They are passing ignorance like hand-me-downs.
And yet, I can’t help but feel that should any of them stop for a moment and look at the services and needs of Planned Parenthood, without attaching a name to it, that they would agree, even support, far more of it than they do not. My point, objection to Planned Parenthood and negative reactions to feminism are knee-jerk results of nurture, not nature. Should one examine each through their own lens and perspective, I honestly believe they would realize that they #StandwithPP, too. Labels be damned.
It turns out the grass is far greener on this side of the fence.
This article is made possible by support from The Mission List. All opinions are my own. Please read the other pieces in this campaign:
- “When Men Debate Abortion, Does the Debate Itself Cause Harm?” by Mike Adamick
- “More Men Need To Stand With Planned Parenthood” by Doyin Richards
- “For That Which We Cannot Plan” by Jeff Bogle
- “Four Reasons Why I Must Stand With Planned Parenthood” by Christopher Persley
- “I Stand With Planned Parenthood” by Doug French
Whit Honea is the co-founder of Dads 4 Change and the Social Media Director of Dad 2.0 Summit. Deemed “the activist dad” by UpWorthy (and one of the “funniest dads on Twitter” by Mashable), he is a regular contributor to The Modern Dads Podcast and the author of The Parents’ Phrase Book—a family guide to empathy that you should totally buy.