05 August 2015

What The Planned Parenthood Controversy Means For LGBT People

Dr. Marci Bowers is an extremely skilled surgeon with a good “bedside manner.”  Like any other first-rate professional, she has fine people working with and for her.

Among them are the screening nurses, counselors and others who prepare people like me for surgery.  The ones who worked with Marci when she was in Trinidad also worked with the local Planned Parenthood, right next to the hospital in which Dr. Bowers practiced.  In fact, on the morning of my surgery, I went to the PP office—where I passed a lone protestor—and, from there, was escorted to the hospital.

I am thinking of that now in light of the furor over Planned Parenthood.  To religious fundamentalists (who, almost invariably, are trying to follow a literal interpretation of a translation of a book written, at least in part, in languages that haven’t been spoken in more than a millennium), Planned Parenthood can be defined in one word:  abortion.  And if something has anything to do with abortion, they are not only against it, they are willing to believe the absolute worst things anyone can say, true or not, about it.

So it’s really no surprise that they’re in a lather over the story that PP is selling tissue from aborted fetuses for use in medical research and treatment.  Of course, when stories are passed along, parts of it are exaggerated, distorted or otherwise changed.  So, somewhere along the way, some hysterical or simply mendacious person announced that Planned Parenthood is “harvesting’ fetuses for tissue.  That story gave the conservatives just the sort of weapon they’ve wanted.

What’s commonly forgotten is that abortion is actually a very small part of what Planned Parenthood does.  For many women—especially the poor and those who live in isolated rural areas—the Planned Parenthood office is one of the few places, if not the only place, where they can find compassionate and competent gynecological health care.  Sometimes even men in such situations rely on Planned Parenthood for their needs.

Knowing such things, I can’t help but to think that Planned Parenthood is a lifeline for many LGBT people.  There are still many health care professionals who won’t treat us or, worse, can’t or won’t treat us with the same compassion or diligence they would provide other patients.  I had one such experience early in my transition, and I have heard stories from other queer people who were treated with contempt or simply given inappropriate advice or care. For example, the doctor of  a lesbian I know told her that if she doesn’t want to get breast cancer, she should have a baby. I doubt that anyone in Planned Parenthood would have told her that.

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