Tag Archives: Planned Parenthood

Abortion Trends – Savita’s Revenge Or Remorse?

In 2012, SuzyKnew! posted an article about women who think they will never need an abortion and then find themselves in a situation like Savita Halappanavar, the Irish woman of Indian desent who died from pregnancy complications when an Irish hospital refused to give her an abortion. Last week, six years after Savita’s death, Ireland voted to overturn the country’s ban on abortion, which was one of the strictest in the world.

(Photo courtesy of UK Daily Mail)

Since a large number of women think they will never need an abortion they aren’t prepared for one.  Many women and their families assume that their health care provider, close confidents and their country’s laws will support them if they ever found themselves in a situation like Savita did. But, this may not be true.

What are abortion laws around the world? Here they are in 5 minutes (source)

Although a large majority of countries allow abortions to save a woman’s life, few countries provide real access to safe abortion. Like, Savita, women are dying around the world. #MeToo?

Looking at the map above, North America, including the U.S., has the safest abortions of all regions. But, under the Trump Administration, access to safe abortion is under threat. From Trump’s recent proposal to defund Planned Parenthood, which is an important source of abortions for low-income women, to efforts to reduce access to family planning and birth control and of course who can forget Trump’s missteps during his campaign when he said women who have abortions should be punished (go to jail?), could American women start ending up like Savita?

Have any of Trump’s former lovers found themselves needing an abortion? Maybe the Donald provided them the financial – if not the emotional support they needed to have an abortion. Did these women have the option to keep their Baby Donald if they decided they didn’t want an abortion? Or not?

Ireland’s overturning its ban on abortion and the #MeToo movement against the backdrop of rising populism across the U.S. and Europe and backlash against women are dual trends that could spell hope or disaster for women worldwide.

See the Guttmacher Institute’s Fact Sheet on abortions worldwide for more information

Will Planned Parenthood Be Defunded? ASK AN OBGYN

Dear SuzyKnew!

The news is filled with accusations against Planned Parenthood. I have gone to them for years. What happened? Should a sista’ be worried that her health center may close?


Dear Reader,

Planned Parenthood is a non-profit women’s health organization that has been providing women’s health care since the 1930’s- and has its roots in the women’s suffrage movement. Can you imagine a time when women could not obtain birth control? A time when a woman did not have the basic human right to control her own body?

More importantly, Planned Parenthood is about “us.” Fourteen percent of Planned Parenthood patients were African Americans — more than 370,000 people – in 2013. Between 2003 and 2013, the number of African-American patients increased by 12 percent, with a 126 percent increase in African-American male clients.

Moreover, according to the Guttmacher Institute, of the 20 million women who needed publicly funded family planning services in 2013, approximately 3.6 million were black and 4.9 million were Hispanic. Between 2000 and 2010, the number of women in need of publicly funded services who were Hispanic increased by 47%, the number of black women in need increased by 17%.

Now, what if we turned back the clock on access to women’s health care? What would happen if a large number of women of all races and ethnic backgrounds across the U.S. lost access to important health services such as birth control, cancer screenings, and treatment for STIs, or access to safe abortion care? Because that, my dear reader, is what the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates would happen if Planned Parenthood were to close. There would be an increase in unplanned pregnancies, and as a result an increase in abortions. The CBO also estimates that the closure of community-based women’s health services, like Planned Parenthood would cost the government tens of millions of dollars. This is what the Planned Parenthood leaders and supporters of women’s health are telling Congress- Bad things will happen if Planned Parenthood were to lose out on it’s funding- which to be clear is not direct support for the government for abortions or any other women’s health services- it’s just the ability to participate in Medicaid, like any other health center, doctor or hospital in the U.S.

Yes, if Planned Parenthood were to close, it will be a huge blow to women in the U.S., particularly the young and low-income women that depend on Planned Parenthood for their health care. But thankfully, it looks like the facts will prevail this time around.  So, what’s happening? For decades, Planned Parenthood has been a central figure in the debate over abortion and has been a target of groups that seek to revoke women’s right to reproductive choice. It’s an old story that keeps rearing its ugly head with each political cycle or in this case with the passing of the annual government budget. The angle this time is not specifically about abortion, but about using donated fetal tissue for medical research. An anti-abortion group secretly recorded Planned Parenthood staff at a conference and created a video aimed to discredit the organization. The video accuses Planned Parenthood of illegally obtaining and selling fetal tissue from abortions.  Accusations, which are totally false. Unfortunately, despite the fact that Planned Parenthood did nothing wrong, the anti-abortion group was successful in that they launched a media smear campaign intended to discredit Planned Parenthood and they got the attention they wanted.

What is “research using fetal tissue” and why is this a big deal?

Scientists use fetal cells (obtained from fetal tissue from abortions and miscarriages) in research because they divide quickly and adapt more easily than adult cells to new environments. Fetal cells have been used since the 1930’s for medical research and has contributed to treatments for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, diabetes, AIDS, and also autism. The vaccines used today that have saved millions of lives worldwide (small pox, measles, even chicken pox) were developed using fetal cells. This is such an important part of medicine and research that the National Institutes of Health spent over 76 million dollars in 2014 on research using fetal tissue. Check this out- U.S. News created a FAQ that clearly describes how fetal tissue for research is obtained and how this research has contributed to eradicating diseases.

Fetal tissue is only obtained from a woman that has given her consent for her blood and blood products to be used for medical research. Planned Parenthood has a consent process that is in line with federal regulations for the protection of human subjects. Should you be worried about your health center? Thankfully, it seems as if Planned Parenthood has dodged this latest attack, but there will likely be more attacks on women’s health in the future until the day that the political and cultural tide changes in the U.S.

Take care


                                                                                                                             Photo courtesy of Andy Katz/Rex The Guardian

Knowing My Baby’s Cells Are Finding Cures For Others Brings Me Comfort – The Planned Parenthood Videos

Are you disturbed and upset about the series of videos secretly taken by the anti-abortion organization Center for Medical Progress that exposes Planned Parenthood and people posing as fetal-tissue procurers haggling over the price of “baby parts”?  Whether you support a woman’s right to chose an abortion or not, the videos aren’t pretty. They are unsettling in part because they are so clinical.  But, a conversation between an organization harvesting organs from donors and a research lab would be upsetting, too.

That women having an abortion can chose to have the fetal-tissue donated for scientific research is a little known fact now coming to light. In July, Time wrote about a woman who underwent a late stage abortion of a much-wanted baby after she found out the fetus was missing essential organs. The woman found comfort in donating the fetal-tissue knowing her pain could benefit someone.  Now Yahoo Health is releasing pieces almost weekly on abortion and fetal-tissue donations including one that explores the 26-year old man behind the ‘sting’ videos and a recent article on why women decide to donate their fetal tissue – or not to donate it – after an abortion. Even the popular site Whisper  that lets its 10 million monthly users tell their true opinions and secrets is getting into the mix. The site recently asked women who had had an abortion if they had donated the fetal-tissue or not.  One ‘whisper’ asked if someone could point out the verse in the Bible that states God is against abortion. After the Planned Parenthood sting videos, many are using the anonymous site to sound off on abortion.

But, what does this mean for us, women of color?  Whether we live in the US, Caribbean or Africa, whether our governments want to talk about it or not and whether we “whisper” to one another what happened to us, abortion is a reality we’re very much familiar with.  It has happened to us and/or women we are close to. Shaming us, providing misinformation via sting videos or making the procedure more difficult to get will only make the situation worse for women of color.

Also, jumping into the fray Religion News Service (RNS) has highlighted a few key ethical points to keep in mind:

  • The use of fetal tissue in medical research is legal — and scientifically valuable. Vaccines against polio and rubella were developed using fetal issue and fetal cells are essential in developing treatment for Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis and other degenerative diseases. Fetal cells are an invaluable tool for the study of eye diseases, diabetes and muscular dystrophy.
  • Planned Parenthood isn’t the only provider of fetal-tissue. There are others like StemExpress which claims to the be largest supplier of maternal and fetal blood and tissue globally. Where’s the sting video on them? Fetal-tissue collection is taxpayer-funded ($76 million last year) and $30 – $100 per specimen reported on the videos is a reasonable fee (factcheck.org), less than the thousands of dollars other institutions may charge.
  • According to both religious and secular experts, fetal-tissue harvesting can be ethical, too.

As the fallout from the videos continues to unfold and more people are talking about women who volunteer to have their fetus’ cells used for research, it is clear that the Center for Medical Progress aims to take down Planned Parenthood and doesn’t intend for a reflective, in-depth, multidimensional discussion around the topic to take place. May we find some comfort by gaining a greater understanding and spiritual insight around abortion and the many lives it affects.

Photo courtesy of lifenews.com