By Lissa Blake
By Lissa Blake

    When I hear that the Republican majority in both the Iowa House and Senate have made it a priority this session do away with state funding of Planned Parenthood, it really chaps my hide. 

Don’t get me wrong … I am neither pro-abortion nor anti-Republican. 

But I am a proponent of education and healthy options for women, who may not be able to otherwise afford the cost of their own reproductive healthcare. 

I recently saw a Facebook meme circulating on the Internet that read: “I went to Planned Parenthood and all I got was a mammogram, a pap smear, physical testing and treatment, information and counseling about my sexual and reproductive health, cancer screenings, a pregnancy test, prenatal services and access to affordable birth control.” 

One friend responded in the following manner: 

“I completely agree with this. I found out I was pregnant at Planned Parenthood and they never once mentioned abortion they actually helped me with finding all the right contacts to make sure myself and my baby were healthy and taken care of. They were also a great option when I worked part-time and didn’t have health insurance.”

Another Facebook friend was quick to fire off this criticism of a recent comment by Obama: 

“At the second presidential debate, President Barack Obama said that women ‘rely on’ Planned Parenthood for mammograms. Actually, mammograms are not performed at the clinics; Planned Parenthood doctors and nurses conduct breast exams and refer patients to other facilities for mammograms. Individual clinics sometimes provide more than referrals, arranging for mobile mammography vans.

Obama said: “When Governor Romney says that we should eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood, there are millions of women all across the country who rely on Planned Parenthood for not just contraceptive care. They rely on it for mammograms, for cervical cancer screenings.”

It is my assertion that critics of what Obama said are splitting hairs over his word choice. 

When he said women rely on Planned Parenthood for these things, it didn’t mean that Planned Parenthood takes you into a room and literally performs these procedures. 

They do, however, help people who would not otherwise be able to afford these services to access them. 

Just over a decade ago, I was one of those people – a regular patient at NEICAC’s Family Planning clinic, located at the Smith Building in Decorah. 

I wasn’t going there because I am a socialist or someone who thinks the government owes me a free ride.  On the contrary, I sought out their services because I was a recently divorced, single parent whose money only went so far. To be honest, preventative care just wasn’t financially feasible for me at the time. 

At the urging of a friend, I went in for a much overdue yearly exam. And when one of my lab tests came back abnormal, indicating a pre-cancerous condition, the caring folks at Family Planning helped set me on a path that included surgery, frequent followup, etc. Under different circumstances, it was a situation that certainly would have ended badly; however, it was caught early, and with regular checkups was rectified. 

As the years have progressed, I have often thought back to what type of outcome I may have had without access to Family Planning. The beauty of my personally story is that I am still alive and able to wonder about this. Unfortunately, there are people with other outcomes, who cannot. 


Why the push?

If you look at the facts, a government push in the year 2017 to cut these services is completely illogical. 

In the past nine years, abortions in Iowa have gone down by 40 percent, from 6,649 in 2007 to 4,020 in 2016. 

It would seem that providing Iowa women with increased access to education and reproductive healthcare is working. 

Why is it that now our governor, who probably hasn’t had to worry about birth control since before the Apollo Space Mission, has rekindled his resolve to do away with centers around the state that are helping Iowa’s women avoid accidental pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and worse?

“Abortion is going down because women are able to avoid unintended pregnancies,” said Rachel Jones, a researcher for the Guttmacher Institute, a research and policy organization committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights in the United States and Globally.

The abortion decline also coincides with a continued plunge in the number of Iowa teens giving birth. It also has happened as access to abortion services has expanded.


The takeaway

The bottom line is that in 2017, both unintended pregnancies and abortion in our nation are at an all-time low. 

Does that mean that a fewer number of people are participating in activities that could lead to pregnancy? 

I doubt it. 

What it means is that today’s women (and men) are more educated and, perhaps more intentional in their family planning practices.  

Thank goodness.