Op-Ed: Religious People Must Oppose Attacks on Planned Parenthood

Conservatives balk when we say they are waging a war on women. Yet, the way in which conservatives attack and degrade women leaves little doubt that something is dreadfully wrong. The latest attack comes from Senator Ted Cruz who called on evangelical pastors to preach against Planned Parenthood. He even called upon them to support a government shutdown should attempts to defund the health care provider fail.

My work as a pastor and HIV/AIDS educator includes important conversations in communities of color about practicing safer sex and testing for HIV and other STDs. I know firsthand that the services provided by Planned Parenthood are life-saving. I also know that our communities are looking for greater access to health care, not less.

Conservatives like Cruz say their beef with Planned Parenthood stems from the abortion care it provides. But abortion accounts for only three percent of Planned Parenthood’s services. So there must be more to the story.

Amos was the prophetic voice in the Hebrew Bible that called out the social injustice and religious arrogance of those in power. Known as the prophet of righteousness, he critiqued the elite for using religious traditions and the law to place economic and political power within the hands of a privileged few. Today’s war on women requires a prophetic response like that of Amos.

Targeting Planned Parenthood is one part of conservatives’ broader agenda to limit the health care options of low-income people. They’d like to eradicate access to safe abortion, and have also sought to severely limit access to birth control. Around the country, they’ve failed to extend Medicaid benefits to low-income people, and have voted in Washington dozens of times to repeal President Obama’s health care law.

More than that, though, the on-going attacks on women have a much more sinister motive. They are designed to mobilize fear and hate for electoral purposes; to mobilize an aggrieved base of angry, primarily white voters to eradicate the freedoms and liberties of women, people of color, immigrants, the LBGTQ community, and poor people.

Conservatives cannot be allowed to capitalize on economic insecurities and tensions around race and gender in order to scapegoat groups like Planned Parenthood. The faith community must offer our prophetic voice to shed light on the conservative movement’s strategy.

Liberal faith voices must put forth our theologies of reproductive justice and speak out against social injustice and religious arrogance. We must speak loudly for love, compassion, justice, and the liberation of all those who suffer myriad forms of oppression. We must serve as faithful witnesses of attempts to stand in the way of God’s people walking in the fullness of their reproductive and sexual liberation and wholeness. We must shed light upon the deceptive use of our legal processes to engage in forms of reproductive and sexual oppression.

We must be ever-mindful of deceitful tactics designed to advance a conservative, anti-woman, anti-poor, anti-immigrant, anti-LBGTQ, and anti-people of color agenda. They robe themselves in a false sense of concern. Authentic righteousness is grounded in love and compassion, and stands firmly in the prophetic space of liberation. Righteousness is grounded in promoting a quality of life that respects and seeks to be in community with others.

Amos 5:24 says, “But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” Let those of us who are committed to justice stand firmly in the space of ensuring that the waters of justice run unfiltered throughout the lives of all people. Let us work fervently to keep the stream of righteousness free from the tainted residue of hatred and misogyny that attempts to pollute it.

15 Comments

  • DvHof@aol.com' HomerBedloe2 says:

    “Targeting Planned Parenthood is one part of conservatives’ broader agenda to limit the health care options of low-income people.” That is absolute nonsense, and as a conservative I am offended by this accusation. Any funds that are withheld from Planned Parenthood will be bestowed upon other community clinics that provide the same services, of which there are many. Please stop buying into the PP propaganda that alleges they are the only organization available that provides women’s health information and testing. It’s garbage.

    You obviously have a very low opinion of conservatives if you truly believe part of their political agenda is to make poor people get sicker. I expect better from a man of God.

  • sandys@shaw.ca' Arachne646 says:

    Where do you think these other equal-quality health care resources are going to come from, that are supposedly going to appear when money is cut off from Planned Parenthood? There are many providers of healthcare, but few who accept new patients or Medicaid patients, few who do prenatal care, few who have seen Sexually Transmitted Diseases and treated them recently, and so on.

  • luv2garden5@gmail.com' Diane says:

    You obviously don’t know much about women’s health care in rural America.

  • cgoslingpbc@aol.com' cgosling says:

    Face the truth my friend. Your strong faith has blinded you to the good things Planed Parenthood does. Condeming an organization because you disagree with a fraction of the services it offers is foolish. It’s like throwing the baby out with the bath water. Under that criteria you would defund the USA and refuse tax breaks to religion. You are correct about us having a low opinion of conservatives.

  • By law, federal, and most state money, may NOT be used for abortions, so this argument to defund Planned Parenthood is a lie, period. Just like money from the federal government should not go to expand Medicaid to help low-income families with all their healthcare, you conservatives would rather have people dying in the streets, I think, instead of showing some of that compassion you were so fond of saying you have.

    You say that money taken from this organization will go to other clinics around the country, but the fact is that many areas of this country do not have clinics which offer mammograms, contraception counseling, family planning counseling, and reproductive healthcare for both men and women. The clinic in the small town I live in does not offer these services and citizens need to drive about 60 miles to the nearest clinic that does, which because of poverty often puts these kinds of services out of range of access. In fact the clinic in my town barely offers anything more than referrals and pill-pushing as a form of medical care, and we are not unusual for small rural communities, which make up the majority of communities in this nation. So your argument is just plain ill-informed at best and arrogant at worst.

    You expect better from a man of God, and yet you seem to be unwilling to look past your “conservative” demeanor to find out whether what is stated here is the truth. I have lived across this nation from New England to the deep South, from the Pacific Northwest to Arizona,and everywhere in between, and I can tell you that Planned Parenthood is in many places the only place where women, men and families can get medical care to help them plan for strong, healthy families. Their services are not just for women, but also for men, and for young people who have been denied reproductive health education by people like you both in their homes and in their schools, not to mention their churches. They stop the need for more abortions by providing appropriate contraceptive counseling which is why only 3% of their services are for abortions, why in areas where they have clinics the demand for abortions is lower than where no clinics exist or have been shut down because of conservatives like you, and most of those are medically necessary, not simply discretionary as the conservative line would have it.

    These doctors and nurses are compassionate and well-informed, and give patients all the facts so that they can make an informed decision about abortion versus other options, something your conservative clinics do not. They also offer something that you conservatives fail to offer – follow-up care and assistance for mothers, instead of just sending them off to have children they cannot care for financially or physically if they choose motherhood over adoption, which are the only two options your services offer. And they do all this at the risk of their lives because of conservatives like you.

    And this is why some of us have such a low opinion of conservatives and their agenda against the poor and their “let them die” approach to health care for the poor, women, and the people of color in this country. After all it was one of you conservatives that shouted that about a person seeking medical care without insurance at a publicly televised debate, was it not!?!

    So stop drinking the conservative Kool-Aid and learn the real truth about Planned Parenthood, not the conservative propaganda put out by a misogynistic party that wants women to be nothing more than breeding cattle, rich donors, and sex toys apparently and religious fanatics who think that because they are male that they can tell others how to live their lives. And if you think that the GOP is going to re-route that money they are trying to get to other clinics, then you are delusional and not paying much attention to what is happening in DC. The GOP’s answer to health care is the individual mandate in the ACA, originally created by Newt Gingrich. That money would be on a straight pipeline to some corporation or donor’s pocket as a thank-you for supporting a presidential campaign.

  • crzylmy@gmail.com' Smknws says:

    Thank you so much for your GREAT reply

  • Dennis.Lurvey@live.com' Well_Read says:

    roe wade wasn’t decided on the bible or even life. it was decided that what another woman does among her family and doctor is none of your damn business. abortion is a constitutionally protected right, a legal procedure, and should be treated that way in the law. it should be covered by insurance and be included with women’s health issues. Under the law the one woman considering an abortion, has equal rights with all christians combined. now mind your own business.

  • Dennis.Lurvey@live.com' Well_Read says:

    before there was PP there were abortions in buckets, buried in the back yard. there are/were home remedies to cause a miscarriage with common medications, squatting over a steam pot. they recently uncovered a mass grave of aborted babies from the time of jesus. abortion was legal here till 1831 when doctors lobbied to make it illegal so only they could cash in on the industry. there was nothing about the bible or pro life, it was just about money.

    it’s arrogant for these lifers to think they can end abortions after 1000’s of years.

  • dragonstuff1983@gmail.com' LosAdam says:

    That is ridiculous. 3% of murder is still murder. I bet the mob has about 3% of its business “whacking” people and extortion, but that doesn’t mean they are doing a good job by helping out people with loans and investing in community development.

  • dragonstuff1983@gmail.com' LAadam says:

    So if a 3 year old child becomes a burden on her mom, the mom has a right to “abort” it’s life?

  • If you know of someone who has been murdered, you should call the police immediately.

    Next time someone gets an abortion, go ahead and call the police and report a murder. See what happens to you.

    Abortion will never be illegal in the US again. You have zero chance of achieving that outcome. I’d get over it if I were you. Lots of other worthy causes to get behind.

  • bw40ny@gmail.com' Bee Wald says:

    Even though abortion is seemed as immoral for some, people have other views about it as well. If parents are not ready to raise a child, it is their decision to have an abortion. However, the services provided by Planned Parenthood is essential to help those specific parents who are not ready.

  • murphyandersond@guilford.edu' Ruth1:16 says:

    Although Planned Parenthood does offer many important services to the community it also performs and supports (even if it is only 3%) abortions. Abortions are very clearly a sin. As Psalm 127:3 states, “Truly children are a gift from the Lord; the fruit of the womb is a reward.” Other passages that stress the sacredness of new life and children as God’s blessing to mankind can be found throughout the Bible. As Christians we must ask ourselves if we are straying from God’s path by supporting institutions that carry out procedures such as abortions that go against the word of God Himself.

  • fiona64@livejournal.com' fiona64 says:

    If abortions are “very clearly a sin,” I suggest you hurry on over to Numbers 5 and explain why a woman is forced to consume an abortifacient.

    Then, you can hurry on over to remedial Civics class to learn why your Bible is not the basis of law in the United States.

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