The men’s lifestyle magazine, GQ, recently published an article titled Why Should a Man Care About Planned Parenthood?
Drawing from his own experience, author Jozen Cummings details his first and only interaction within a Planned Parenthood some 15 years prior as a 20 year old sophomore.
Like all it’s supporters, Cummings continues the mathematically false claims that only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortion. But once past the blatantly false and deceptive facts, you quickly find a sobering picture of the reality that so many facing pregnancy decisions feel and experience.
Cummings’ experience is important because it highlights the perceptions that often feel like reality for those who find themselves unexpectedly pregnant. But let’s take a closer look at some of these perceptions.
Perception #1: The assumed disapproval from parents necessitates the need for an abortion
And neither one of us could imagine the disappointment of our parents should we have told them that they were going to be grandparents before they were parents of college graduates.
As one who has sat with young women and men in this very situation, I can tell you that in almost all the circumstances, the parents (once getting over their initial shock, feelings, etc.) were supportive and excited for a grandchild. It is often that very pregnancy that makes them a grandparent.
But without the opportunity to sit across from a counselor, a friend, or someone who will help you sort your feelings, assumptions, and emotions – your perceptions become your reality. Those who are pro-women, pro-family, and pro-community must be ready to make themselves available to be that voice of hope to those who need to sift through and unwind their thoughts, fears, and emotions.
Perception #2: “I’ll support what you decide” empowers a woman to make a choice
She asked me what I thought we should do, and I told her whatever she decided I would support her. Some would say that is the definition of a pro-choice liberal, but politics were the last thing I was thinking about when she told me she was pregnant.
Statistically we know that the needs of women are what often compel them into feeling abortion is their only option. Saying “I support whatever you do” is by its very nature not support – but abdication.
After all, you’re not the one who must go through the invasive and isolating experience of an abortion. You’re not the one who will spend the following weeks in pain, often times bleeding while recovering. It’s not your body that will experience the dramatic hormonal changes – and thereby emotional fluctuations. And you’re not the one who will live with memory of the that invasive and uncomfortable procedure.
When a woman is deciding what choice is best for her, abortion will always seem like the quickest and simplest solution to any pregnancy. However, in order to carry to term, she requires great physical support.
Saying “I support whatever you decide” is a simple way to abdicate your role of offering physical support, thereby restricting a woman to a singular option–abortion–which is the most convenient choice for you—the supporter of “whatever you decide”.
Having options requires that you become the solution to those needs so that for the woman, carrying to term and/or parenting are actual choices she can consider. Without those choices as realistic possibilities, there is no “pro-choice” – just a forced medical procedure.
Perception #3: Planned Parenthood is the only organization for those scared, alone, and in need
Planned Parenthood was there for me at a time I needed it most. My donation is about paying it forward. It is not just for what I believe, but also for what I’ve been through and for men who may be going through the same thing. They’re scared, just like we were, and they need help just like we did.
There is a widespread perception that Planned Parenthood is the only organization available to those who are of low income, in need, or pregnant. This is simply not true. We’ve discussed this before. But what Planned Parenthood has done well is taken their centers and made themselves easily accessible to those in the community.
This is something the pro-life movement must do as well. We must make our services, our pregnancy centers, our marketing, and our approach something that is easily accessible to all those who are pregnant and in need of support.
We must not let our preferences and ideologies drive our approach. Our movement should be fueled by the needs of those who feel abortion is their only choice.
We know Planned Parenthood does not offer the best care.
We know their priority is not the patients. And we know their mantra that “abortion is only 3% of our services” is a blatant lie. Cummings himself says, “The only thing I left inspired to do was to never come back for an appointment again, and I never did.”
The pro-life community has the incredible opportunity to reframe the narrative and demonstrate to all of society that we are in fact the movement of love, compassion, and action.
Reading Cummings story, it’s hard not to feel pity for him as he admits that “….pro-choice didn’t feel noble; it felt like a weak move on my part.”
He realizes that being pro-choice simply means being pro-one-choice, abortion, and that choosing abortion is the weaker option – because to be the answer for the needs that empower a woman to chose life is so much harder and does demand great strength.
Today we have the opportunity to do what Cummings could not – be the answer to the needs of those who feel abortion is their only choice.