An Open Letter To the 129th Ohio General Assembly In Support Of Planned Parenthood:
I was a patient of Planned Parenthood as a young woman in Chicago in the mid-1970s. I was underemployed, and, although I had health insurance through my employer, women's preventive health care either was excluded from coverage or was applied toward a hefty major medical deductible. Turning to Planned Parenthood meant that I could get my annual Pap test and pelvic exam done for a modest fee. There were basic lab tests and other educational services at the clinic if I wanted them. Nobody forced me to do anything I did not want or need. Subsequently, I went on to better jobs, but I will never forget that Planned Parenthood was there for me when I was young, underemployed, and I needed that annual check-up (Compare: http://www.npr.org/2012/03/28/149473236/texas-feds-face-off-over-planned-parenthood).
Several years later, I went to work in a leukemia and immunogenetics research group of the German Research Society (Special Research Area 120) in Tuebingen (1983-1987). There I learned what it means to live and work in a foreign country that has instituted universal health insurance for all its citizens and legal residents. For well over a century, no patient who needs medical care must go without it for lack of affordable health insurance in Germany.
Some years after that, I went to work in the Clinical Transplant Laboratory in the Surgery Department of the University of Chicago Hospitals (1992-1999). There I performed clinical tissue crossmatches for both cadaveric and living-related solid organ transplantation. I will never forget that night on call duty when I had to pick apart the lymph nodes of a three-year-old toddler. The child had been sitting on his own front stoop on a summer afternoon when he was killed by a gunshot wound to the head in gangbanger crossfire. So, I can tell you how it feels to work under pressure at a laminar air-flow hood and to flick those Terasaki plates and to power up that flow cytometer even as your heart goes out to a grieving mother.
However, your first duty on the job is to do what you need to do for the patient. The patient's needs come first, not your emotions, not your political preconceptions, not your sectarian fixations.
I still hope to live someday in a United States where the children of poor and underemployed mothers will have better prospects in life than to serve as spare parts repositories for those wealthy enough and connected enough to enjoy the security of good health insurance to the exclusion of the working poor and those too sick to defend themselves (Compare http://www.npr.org/blogs/itsallpolitics/2011/11/16/142314581/illegal-during-watergate-unlimited-campaign-contributions-now-fair-game with http://www.followthemoney.org/database/search.phtml?searchbox=Ohio&States%5B%5D=OH&Years%5B%5D=2012&Years%5B%5D=2011&Years%5B%5D=2008&g%5B%5D=6). Until that day dawns, women at my end of the socioeconomic spectrum will continue to rely on Planned Parenthood for competent reproductive health care provided by practitioners with medical ethics that women can trust in a nonprofit, nonsectarian setting (Compare http://www.politifact.com/ohio/statements/2011/nov/02/tim-ryan/tim-ryan-says-poverty-rate-women-highest-two-decad/ with http://www.msmagazine.com/Spring2011/treatmentdenied.asp).
Looking back approximately 135 years to a broader historical context, I remind the 129th General Assembly that Otto von Bismarck (1815-1898), hardly a bleeding-heart liberal, never wanted universal health insurance, social security, or workmen's compensation (with or without bogus coin collections) for Germany. Bismarck had to compromise to retain skilled workers that were leaving Germany in droves for better wages, but no benefits, in the United States. To his credit, Bismarck had the intelligence and the political acumen to move ahead of the curve even if he did not like that curve (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_von_Bismarck). More than one-hundred years later, Germany still serves as a model for a nation state that cares for all its citizens and legal residents for the sake of that country's social stability and economic competitiveness in the world market (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/sickaroundtheworld/countries/models.html).
The historical record goes on to tell us that, in the century following Bismarck, Germany did not produce Margaret Sanger (1879-1966), family planning activist, but rather Beate Uhse-Rotermund (1919-2001), Luftwaffe pilot and businesswoman (http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm4847bx.htm; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beate_Uhse-Rotermund). Perhaps Ms. Uhse-Rotermund's entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen appeal to the 129th General Assembly as the more suitable model for Ohio's daughters to emulate (http://www.spiegel.de/international/zeitgeist/0,1518,786667,00.html).
Be that as it may, the historical record also tells us that, to his credit, President Richard Nixon (1913-1994) displayed his political acumen when he signed Title X into law in 1970 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Title_X; http://www.nationalfamilyplanning.org/page.aspx?pid=476). Today Ohio wage earners like me can only hope and pray that our illustrious Lieutenant Governor and Director of Insurance somehow will snap out of it and get to work on a sane health insurance exchange for Ohio (http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2011/12/20/carney-says-invitation-to-taylor-not-a-stunt.html; http://www.politifact.com/ohio/statements/2011/sep/19/mary-taylor/lt-gov-mary-taylor-says-obamacare-would-require-pu/; http://www.politifact.com/ohio/statements/2011/nov/02/tim-ryan/tim-ryan-says-poverty-rate-women-highest-two-decad/).
In the meantime, both Senate Bill 201 and House Bill 298 appall me for what they fail to do as much as for what they threaten to do (http://www.plunderbund.com/2012/02/29/bill-to-defund-planned-parenthood-likely-unconstitutional/). For example, child rape and child abuse offend my God. Yet I see no provision in this bill to forbid my tax dollar from subsidizing Viagra for the next old goat to bugger a child in a stadium locker room, a rectory, or some public restroom (http://www.npr.org/2011/11/08/142111804/penn-state-abuse-scandal-a-guide-and-timeline; http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/15/us/kansas-city-bishop-indicted-in-reporting-of-abuse-by-priest.html; http://articles.philly.com/2011-07-24/news/29809930_1_grand-jury-angry-grand-jurors-cardinal-anthony-j-bevilacqua; http://www.npr.org/2012/02/17/146983312/pa-priest-faces-trial-on-child-abuse-cover-up-charges). I see no provision in this or any bill before the 129th General Assembly to help victims recover from the ravages of child abuse, although I am sure that organizations like SNAP could give the Ohio legislature some pointers (http://www.snapnetwork.org/; http://www.msmagazine.com/Fall2011/perpwalkforpope.asp; http://www.snapnetwork.org/snap_blasts_symposium_in_rome_as_window_dressing; http://fratres.wordpress.com/2010/04/20/full-text-open-letter-to-bishops-by-hans-kung/; http://www.sueddeutsche.de/politik/theologe-kueng-offener-brief-historischer-vertrauensverlust-1.4154). I do not want my tax dollar frittered away on fertility treatments for some "octomom" who needs psychiatric counseling more than she needs in vitro fertilization, but I see no provision for that contingency in this or any bill before the Ohio legislature (http://www.wcivf.com/about.php; http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43241012/ns/health-health_care/t/sulemans-fertility-doc-has-license-revoked/).
The TRUTH is that NONE of the Title X funds Planned Parenthood receives is spent on abortion services. ALL Title X funds in Planned Parenthood's budget are disbursed to provide medically and ethically sound health care services to mostly poor and underemployed patients in a nonprofit, nonsectarian setting that they can trust in the absence of universal health insurance. We know this because Planned Parenthood's budget is audited by law, not to mention hostile fishing expeditions at taxpayer expense (http://www.politifact.com/ohio/statements/2011/dec/09/ohio-right-life/ohio-right-life-says-millions-federal-aid-went-sta/). With due regard for the maxim that trust is good, verification is better, Planned Parenthood's bookkeeping and regulatory compliance have withstood that scrutiny with integrity as opposed to the likes of Paul Casimir "The Gorilla" Marcinkus (1922-2006) or Thomas W. Noe (1954-) (http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/2006/feb/23/guardianobituaries.religion; http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/june/19/newsid_3092000/3092625.stm; http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2003/dec/07/italy.theobserver; http://www.commoncause.org/site/pp.asp?c=dkLNK1MQIwG&b=475691).
Planned Parenthood's agenda always has been to inform their patients; to support them in their decisions about their reproductive health; and thereby to empower them (http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/who-we-are/history-and-successes.htm; http://www.plannedparenthood.org/about-us/who-we-are/reverend-martin-luther-king-jr-4728.htm). Planned Parenthood has NEVER betrayed their patients by keeping them ignorant, afraid, or dependent (Compare http://www.cdc.gov/tuskegee/clintonp.htm). Whatever a patient's faith may or may not be, Planned Parenthood employees do not foist their personal religious beliefs on her by intimidation or by withholding medical treatment that could save her life (Compare http://www.msmagazine.com/Spring2011/treatmentdenied.asp; http://www.cdc.gov/tuskegee/timeline.htm).
In conclusion, I welcome Planned Parenthood in my neighborhood. I can no longer abide the travesty of the 129th General Assembly on my tax dollar (http://www.plunderbund.com/2012/02/29/bill-to-defund-planned-parenthood-likely-unconstitutional/; http://www.ppao.org/Legislation/129th/June28-House-votes.html; http://www.plunderbund.com/2011/09/03/senate-gop-leader-awards-huge-retroactive-pay-raises-to-staff/). What you propose to do with reckless disregard for the consequences to poor and underemployed patients today is as damnable as what you have left undone in health care reform to date. So, I have posted this open letter to put Ohio's 129th General Assembly on notice that, to paraphrase an expression from the vanished world of my Chicago Catholic and my Cleveland Lutheran grandmothers, you cannot urinate up my back and tell me that it is raining. No more blue-dog split-personality tickets for me (http://www.ocnus.net/artman2/publish/Dark_Side_4/The-Abortion-that-Mitt-Doesn-t-Talk-About-Anymore.shtml). From now on I urge every voter to vote Planned Parenthood pink right down to her, or his, underwear on Tuesday, November 6, 2012. It is the only decent thing to do in light of "our" Ohio legislature's abysmal job performance.
POSTSCRIPT: Contact Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio to learn what you can do to support their mission (http://www.plannedparenthood.org/greater-ohio/get-involved-39424.htm). You can email them (firstname.lastname@example.org) or phone them at 614-244-2235. In the meantime, take heart, speak up, and remember that the only poll that counts is the one that is taken on Election Day.
N.B.: The internet websites originally cited in this post were accessed on January 17-20, 2012. Additional citations were added in February and March 2012 in honor of Ohio Women's Lobby Day.