Standing with Planned Parenthood Without Apologizing for Abortion

See all our coverage of the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s break with Planned Parenthood here.

Yesterday, the Susan G. Komen foundation sent shock waves through the pro-choice community when it pulled its funding for breast exams from Planned Parenthood, denying a much-needed service to low-income women who rely on Planned Parenthood for a wide variety of health care services.

Overnight, those of us who are connected with a pro-choice community on places like Facebook and Twitter have seen a proliferation of articles and petitions decrying the Komen organization for this dangerous–and clearly politically motivated–decision, renewing the rallying slogan “I stand with Planned Parenthood.” But once again, as is always the case when Planned Parenthood’s funding is threatened, we must be cautious and conscious about the way we choose to frame our support for the organization.

Many Planned Parenthood supporters–along with PP itself–are quick to point out that abortions account for only 3 percent of the services that Planned Parenthood provides. But while it is all well and good to raise awareness about the variety of health care services that Planned Parenthood offers to those in need, we also must be careful not to do so in a way that further stigmatizes abortion.

In hastily repeating the 3 percent statistic, we become apologists for abortion, implying that the value of Planned Parenthood lies only in the fact that abortion accounts for only a tiny minimum of the services they provide. We are in trouble when even pro-choice activists are scrambling to downplay the necessity and the value of safe, affordable abortion care. What we need is not to reduce the importance of accessible abortion, but to reaffirm it. This is an opportunity to assert that abortion is not a necessary evil to be apologized for, but a vital part of women’s health care. And seeing as how all opposition to funding Planned Parenthood stems from an objection to abortion, it is absolutely imperative that we defend them from an angle which asserts abortion as a safe, legal, routine, and highly needed medical procedure.

We must stand with Planned Parenthood. But let’s not do so in a way that denies the extreme importance of all the services they provide. As advocates for reproductive justice, the last thing we can afford to do is allow ourselves to become complicit in the stigmatization of abortion.

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  • rachel-roth

    Well said, Angi. Women need quality abortion care; PP should take credit for providing it as part of comprehensive reproductive health care.

  • veggietart

    The problem is, no matter what we do, there will be people who are vehemently opposed to abortion and will use the fact that Planned Parenthood provides them as a rallying point against the organization.  Yes, it’s better for a woman to have an abortion than to have a child she does not want and will not love, but I also think it’s far better that she not be faced with an unwanted pergnancy in the first place!  I agree with what Hillary Clinton once said: Safe, legal, and rare (because women have access to contraceptives and use them properly).

    The enemies of choice, it seems, are wholly lacking in empathy.  They never have been and probably never will be faced with such a difficult decision and cannot put themselves in the shoes of those who have been.  Even worse, some think that because the choices they made worked out for them, everyone should have to make these same choices.  They don’t realize that they may have been lucky and others are not.

    There are more shameful things than ending an unwanted pregnancy (like being an abusive parent) but removing that “stigma” is going to be a long, hard battle.


  • radicalhousewife

    Thank you, Angi & RH Reality Check, for stating what should be so obvious!