Turning Protests Into Pro-Choice Action

Dian Harrison is President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Golden Gate.

The 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade on January 22nd, is a cause for celebration for all who care about women's health and especially for those of us in the reproductive rights movement who work to protect and extend this legacy every day. It also provides a valuable opportunity to promote prevention.

Prevention – of unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and cervical cancer – is a goal that everyone should be able to support. Not only is prevention good health policy, it also makes good fiscal sense. For example, in California, every dollar spent preventing unintended pregnancy, saves California an additional $5.33 in future medical and social services costs, according to the California Research Bureau.

Unfortunately, there are still many who prefer to use this anniversary to stage an annual conflict here in San Francisco. On January 20th, anti-choice groups from around the state will descend upon our pro-choice city to protest legalized abortion. Without a trace of irony, the so-called "Walk for Life" uses feminist language – their slogan is "Women Deserve Better Than Abortion" – while they work to undermine the very foundation of women's autonomy. Despite their slogan, they don't lift a finger to help women avoid unintended pregnancies, the leading cause of abortion. What if the energy they put into protest could be harnessed to support women's health services instead?

At Planned Parenthood Golden Gate (PPGG) we are trying to do just that. PPGG is celebrating the 34th anniversary of Roe v. Wade with a Pledge-a-Protester fundraising campaign to bring the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine to low-income women and girls in the Bay Area. The HPV vaccine has the potential to end cervical cancer, the second most common form of cancer among women worldwide and the cause of death of nearly 4,000 women each year in the U.S.

However, at a cost of around $450 to procure and administer the 3 shot series, the break-through vaccine is well beyond the means of many Bay Area families. 4.7 million Californians live in poverty, and, with 7 million uninsured, California has the highest rate of uninsured individuals in the nation (U.S. Census, 2006.) Even in affluent San Francisco County, 12% of the population lives in poverty, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. Everyone deserves access to this life saving vaccine.

We invite you to join us in celebrating Roe this year by putting prevention first. Help raise awareness in your community of the work that remains to be done in bringing reproductive health care to everyone.

For more information on our Pledge-a-Protester campaign, visit our website.

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