Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Palin, unplanned pregnancies, Planned Parenthood, and plans

I got a text message this afternoon from a friend - a young, unmarried friend - letting me know she's (unplannedly) pregnant.

This the day after McCain's brilliant choice for VP announced her seventeen-year-old daughter is also unplannedly pregnant. And, of course, just a few days before that, McCain announced that, as his VP, he had chosen a woman who had (unplannedly) had her fifth child at age 44, while serving her first year as governor of Alaska.

This woman, by the way, is supposed to be the female vote's consolation prize for losing Hillary. Regardless of the very obvious fact that this woman stands for the exact opposite of everything Hillary stands for - but that's a minor detail. Hillary and Palin both have vaginas and boobies (skip to 3:00), so they must be the same, right?

My friend said she skipped a couple months of birth control because she couldn't afford to pay for it. I can't argue with her on that; I've taken months off because I couldn't pay the $40+ my insurance charged me per month for the NuvaRing - and I'm a fully grown, adult woman with a full-time, full-paying job. She's a starving student how can she afford to play full price for birth control?

My first thought, when she told me she couldn't afford birth control, was DID YOU TRY PLANNED PARENTHOOD??? They charge for their services on a sliding scale, so people on low incomes (including students) can afford birth control. I used to get my pills for $10 a pack, if not less (they also allowed you to get several packs at once - I think they give you a discount if you buy "in bulk," and could get a whole year in one visit, so you don't have to worry about running out or having to find time in your schedule to get to a pharmacy or PP during their working hours, which always tend to coincide perfectly with my working hours).

I didn't voice that thought, because that little nugget of information was not going to help her in the least at this point in time. But I was filled with rage that the information was not so blatantly obvious to her when the information would have been helpful.

Why is this info not common knowledge for all young women?

Thanks to men like John McCain and women like Palin.

When you say "Planned Parenthood," there are people who hear "ABORTION." I don't have a number on this, but all the Planned Parenthood locations I have been to (in three different cities), none of them perform abortions. The only PP clinics that perform abortions are those in areas where there is no other abortion provider.

Planned Parenthood provides counseling on ALL the options available to you when you face an unplanned pregnancy. When I walked into my PP clinic, my mind was fully made up. I asked for information on getting an abortion, because that is what I had decided to do. I specifically asked for information on getting an abortion. They took me into a room, and the lady talked to me about ALL the options available to me. She told me about adoption services. She told me about government aid programs, to help single mothers. She made me take the information home. I almost felt that she was arguing with me, trying to convince me to change my mind and carry the pregnancy to term - I did not walk in undecided and receive information on ALL my options, I walked in FULLY DECIDED, specifically asked for information about the option I had already chosen, but they showed me ALL my options anyway. They made sure I had ALL the information.

Planned Parenthood also provides pre-natal care to millions of low-income women. This is pretty much the only medical care some of these women receive.

There is nothing "anti-life" about Planned Parenthood. They do a heck of a lot to improve and maintain the lives of women and children. How is that not "pro" life?

Birth control is a good thing. It is more than a good thing - it should be a damned right for every woman in this country. Every woman should have information and access to birth control - money should not be an obstacle to this aspect of basic woman's health care.

Sarah Palin is an adult woman. If she chooses not to use birth control (which I am extrapolating from the fact that her first three children are close in age, which would suggest they were planned; 6-7 years later, she has another child, randomly, and another 6-7 years later, when she is well past recommended child-bearing age AND during her first year in her first term as governor - a job that does not easily allow for maternity leave - she gets pregnant again, and then chooses to hide this fact from her constituency until the very last minute... does that seemed planned to you?), then that's her business and I have no right to say peep about it. I assume, because she is a 44-year-old adult, that she has the necessary information to make an informed decision on whether or not she wants to use birth control - if I personally disagree with her decision, who cares.

However, her poor planning resulted in the birth of a child. Another human being. (It also resulted in this pregnancy and birth taking place during her first year as Governor - if I were one of her constituents, I think I'd have a few choice words to say about her negligence. How well can you run the state when you're getting up 2-3 hours a night, for months on end, to feed your baby?) And neither she nor her husband have - from what I have seen, and I've been looking - taken responsibility for their action. She gave birth to the child, and now she's committing to running for Vice-President, and extremely time-consuming and stressful job. Who's left taking care of the baby?

Big Sis Bristol!

Which, as it turns out, might be a good thing - it's giving her some great training for her own child, which shall be arriving in about four months. It's almost too good to be true for Palin - since little Bristol will be home anyway, taking care of her own baby, Palin can go ahead and leave li'l Trig with Bristol and not even worry about day care! Now that's what I can some great social conservative family values.

Bristol's only 17. This child needed to be told about birth control. She needed to have a way to access information and acquire pills, condoms, Rings, whatever she wanted.

Instead, she was fed abstinence-only "education." Well, we can see how well that works!

When are you people going to wake up and realize that the kids who are going to have sex, are going to have sex whether we tell them about it or not. They're not waiting for our "permission." And, PLEASE, giving them information is NOT giving them "permission." It's giving them INFORMATION.

I have to admit I am disproportionately angry about these unplanned pregnancies. I should not care this much. It's not my problem, I should move on.

So why am I writing this eternally long blog post about it?

I have been waiting for a very long time to have a child. I have had several opportunities to get off birth control and get pregnant (and, at times, I have had to go through great pains to make sure I didn't get pregnant, because I could not access or afford birth control). But I have waited.

I've been waiting for so long, I'm getting pretty darn close to missing my chance (unlike certain people, I had comprehensive sex ed in school, and I realize that the older a woman is when she conceives the higher the risks of birth defects - such as Down's Syndrome - are, and I don't want to put my potential baby in that risk).

I also grew up with a mother who works with abused and abandoned children. I am too aware of what happens to unwanted pregnancies (not all unplanned pregnancies are unwanted, but all unwanted pregnancies were unplanned). I am too aware of the hoards of children out there waiting for a home.

The world is overpopulated as it is, and we're working so hard to deplete the resources we have left. So many people are bringing children into this world without thinking, why would I want to add to the insanity?

This is what I was thinking as I was driving home from work today, still texting with my friend. There are too many kids in the world already, I don't even want to be a part of that anymore.

Birthing and raising a child are hard. Part of me is thinking, with the excess of children already in the world, why do I want to go through all that work just to aggravate the problem?

What do I do with my students for the six weeks I'll be out on maternity leave (I wish I could take the full 12 weeks, but there's no way I can be out for two-thirds of the semester). Would I be able to breastfeed after I went back to work? Is there any way I could pump at work? (Yeah, that's going to work in a classroom of high-school boys...)

Part of me wants to give up on the dream I've had since I've been old enough to understand the concept. It's just too much. I can't deal with the irresponsible parenting, and I don't want to be a part of it.

But then, part of me want to scream, "When the fuck is it my turn, you damned people?"

How come everybody else gets away with it, and I'm sitting here, like an idiot, waiting until I'm in the right relationship and have my debt under control. Why am I still waiting? Is there even a point?

Unplanned pregnancies can work out. My sister did it. I don't know how; she has a strength I never knew, and I admire. She got pregnant in college, yet she gave birth and graduated without missing a beat. She was in a bad marriage, but she had the strength to get herself and her toddler daughter out of it. She's currently putting herself through law school as a single parent, and her daughter is one of the most well-put-together, smart, confident, well-behaved, mature kids I know. I don't know how she did it - how she does it. I'm in awe of her.

Hopefully things will work out that well for my friend. At least, unlike poor Bristol, my friend (and her parents) are smart enough to not aggravate an unplanned pregnancy by forcing her into a bad marriage, but the dad is going to be involved (so he says, now. Hopefully he'll be a man of his word, and one worth having involved).

It still makes me mad.

It can be avoided so easily. All we need is information - clear and accurate information - and a little bit of tolerance (yes, I recognize the hypocrisy of me asking for tolerance when I have been so intolerant in this post. But who ever said I was any sort of role model?)

Don't agree with abortion? Then don't have one. Also, give people birth control, so there won't be an unwanted pregnancy to abort.

Nobody wants to have an abortion. It is the lesser evil. Let's find a way to reach our common goal of no unwanted pregnancies.


  1. To play devil's advocate, I always feel compelled to point out that just b/c a pregnancy was unplanned doesn't mean precautions were not taken. Lindsey was on birth control when she got pregnant. Unplanned pregnancies are more likely to happen from lack of birth control, but it's not an automatic assumption that can be made.

    However, the rest of it? BRAVO. Great post. =)

    (ps- I'm assuming the friend has access to other prenatal care, if not does she know that Planned Parenthood can help with that, as well?)

  2. Anonymous9:45 PM

    You're right, unplanned pregnancies can happen even with birth control (human error, and that 0.2% is still there, even with "perfect" use).

    My friend said she used condoms while she was off bc, but there are so many ways for things to go wrong with condoms - this is where the sex ed part comes in. One thing is being able to go to the grocery store and pick up a pack of condoms, another is knowing how to use it, how not to use it, when to put it on, when to withdraw and take it out, where not to leave the pack so the material isn't damaged before you use the condoms.

    (Thanks for bringing it up; I was going to address this point, but I guess I got sidetracked.)

    Also, thanks for connecting the dots for me that I should let her know about PP's pre-natal care services. :)