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Monday, September 14, 2015

You can be pro-choice without supporting Planned Parenthood


[Today's guest post is by Sean Cahill, a recent graduate of the University of Arizona College of Law. She says: "Because it changes the way my voice is heard when it comes to life issues, I feel compelled to state that I'm a woman, despite what my name suggests."]

Safe, legal, and rare.

Whenever I hear this phrase spoken by an abortion advocate, it is usually followed by an argument that while abortion is not ideal, it is necessary because of all the hardships women face, and abortion should be safe. That argument is at least internally consistent, and I find myself partially in agreement: IF abortion is going to be legal, then of coarse it should be safe and rare. As deeply saddened as I am by the loss of any life, I could put aside the issue of legality while working with those on the other side to make abortion safe and rare.

In fact, if together we could confront the reasons for abortion—if we could make it so that no woman ever feels it is necessary, all women understand what abortion is, and has access to alternatives—would we even need to make it illegal? When legislation is proposed that would ensure that babies born alive are protected, that abortion clinics have to be safe and sanitary, and that women contemplating abortion must be informed, I naively think we’ve got to be able to all work together on this… right?

Then I watch and read in horror as pro-choice individuals support a Planned Parenthood representative stating that what to do about a baby sitting on the counter alive after a botched abortion should be decided by the woman and her doctor. I see them oppose to simple safety regulations that already apply to other outpatient surgical facilities, such as ensuring halls are wide enough to accommodate gurneys in the case of an emergency. I see them fight tooth and nail against any and all informed consent laws.

Is this safe, legal, and rare? Is this choice? Has Planned Parenthood ever supported any regulation of abortion? Is abortion the one medical procedure that should go entirely unregulated and unrestricted?

If you are pro-choice, I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that you hold that position because you believe it is in women’s best interest.  But let me ask you: is it in the best interest of women to ignore sexual abuse? Is it in the best interest of women to ignore sex trafficking? (Before you shout “edited!” the full investigative footage is available for both of these in the same links.) Is it in the best interest of young, teen women to tell them there is absolutely no possibility of “long-term depression or mental-health problems” following an abortion, when there are findings to the contrary, and countless women have experienced post-abortive grief and bound together in organizations like the Silent No More Campaign and Rachel’s Vineyard? Is it in the best interest of women for Planned Parenthood affiliates to have abortion quotas? (And if you dismiss evidence from pro-life former Planned Parenthood workers as “biased,” do you view current Planned Parenthood workers as biased?  Do you ever wonder what causes people who are supposedly on the forefront of women’s liberation to turn away and become pro-life?)

Is this safe, legal, and rare? Is Planned Parenthood the best we can do?    

I often think to myself: If only abortion advocates saw what I saw. But that’s just it. They don’t see what we see. Planned Parenthood has trained them to reject any image or video that shows abortion in a bad light as impossible; it must have been doctored. And any woman who regrets her abortion must have been brainwashed by religious fanatics. Where we see facts, they see propaganda. Where we see abortion, they see women’s rights.

Pro-choicers, consider that I have shed tears, wishing that I didn’t see what I see. When given the choice, who would expose themselves to the emotional pain of seeing humanity in a pile of baby parts when you could just see “fetuses” instead? Who would choose to see women hurting, when instead you could see biased anti-choice bigots? Being pro-life isn’t easy or fun. But I have to be pro-life, because I am committed to the truth.

I truly believe that we agree on a whole lot more than we disagree on, and while there are fundamental differences that are not open to compromise, I really think that pro-life and pro-choice could work together for women and children. We would all feel our missions were accomplished if no woman felt abortion was necessary because society met the needs of pregnant and parenting women.

But to work together, pro-choicers have to break with their leaders—especially Planned Parenthood—that have acted in opposition to women’s interests.  We need to have real, informed conversations in which the experiences of post-abortive women and former abortion workers are not tuned out. We need to talk about what is really happening.


Pro-choicers, don’t let Planned Parenthood make you their puppet. You fought hard for women, you fought for what you thought was right, and you handed this great responsibility over to Planned Parenthood. Are you honestly satisfied with what they’ve done with it? Look at the state of abortion in this country and ask: Is this what women deserve? Is this safe, legal, and rare? Is this the best we can do? Being pro-choice does not mean being pro-Planned Parenthood. Don’t give them free rein just because they’re willing to get their hands dirty. You’ve trusted them with a whole lot; but are they worthy of that trust?

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