Hi, friends. Today I’m discussing the controversial topic of women’s health care. It shouldn’t be controversial, right? Our politicians have made it that way, I’m afraid. Before I begin: I am left-leaning but this post is mainly from my heart, backed up by a few numbers and what I think are facts based on research. I tried to keep it as unbiased as possible. If you feel like leaving a rude or inappropriate comment, don’t let the door hit ya where the good Lord split ya. Move on with your life. J and I vote differently yet remain respectful with one another and I expect the same thing here. If you feel like telling me I’m a jerk, I already know. I’ll be back to my normal nonsense tomorrow!
On Tuesday, presidential candidate Jeb Bush said during a speech to the Southern Baptist Convention, “I’m not sure we need half a billion dollars for women’s health issues.” Bush admitted that he misspoke (totally understandable!) and claimed he was only referring to Planned Parenthood. I was initially disgusted by his comment but am giving him the benefit of the doubt as I realize it can be difficult to articulate a point when speaking to a large crowd. But I continue to disagree with his opinion.
There is a stigma attached to women’s healthcare- we are ashamed to discuss our issues and our fears. It’s taboo. We are afraid of how we’ll be perceived if we admit to taking birth control or receive the HPV vaccine (which prevents cervical cancer)! We avoid our annual exams. Yet it remains a point of contention in politics. Excuse my extremely harsh language, but that blows my fucking mind.
When I was in my mid-twenties, I had an abnormal Pap Smear. I was tested again- still abnormal. I was sent to another doctor, given another Pap (because they’re the most comfortable things on the planet), and, you guessed it, abnormal. My doctor informed me that I potentially had cervical cancer. That’s a slap in the face at any age, but my twenty-something self was frightened. I had a colposcopy (a special device that enables doctors to biopsy cervical tissue), and, after what seemed like years of waiting, was told that the cells were pre-cancerous. I was scheduled for a LEEP Procedure a few weeks later that removed the abnormal cells. All tests came back cancer-free and, after a year of multiple Pap Smears, I have been DILIGENT about keeping my now only annual exam. I am beyond grateful that I went to my initial appointment. I don’t want to think of what could have happened had I not.
Why am I telling you this? I’m a (mostly) private person and didn’t share this with a lot of people who know me in real life. It’s because I want you to THINK about your health. This can happen to anyone. Many of us put our health on the back burner because we’re busy taking care of everyone and everything else. Maybe we’re misinformed or afraid. But according to the American Cancer Society, if you begin having symptoms of certain female cancers, such as ovarian, it likely means it’s spread to other organs. Early detection is KEY. Since my surgery, I call my doctor for every little thing that seems abnormal and ask a million questions during my annual exam. Asking questions and receiving second opinions could save your life. You know if something is not right. And, under many healthcare plans, annual exams are free as it’s considered preventative care! My plan follows this initiative so there is NO excuse for me not to go.
Using birth control doesn’t make you a bad person.
I was on birth control for most of my twenties, stopped for a couple of years, and started again a few months ago because of issues with my period. It’s hard to live life when you are feeling like a crampy, bloated, tired, emotional, sweaty mess, and since those symptoms have worsened with age (aging is so fun), I decided to give birth control another chance (per my doctor’s recommendation). I will never understand how we can be called trash for using birth control for any reason, but especially when we’re using it to help with PMS symptoms. Reports this week indicate that oral contraceptives have prevented 400,000 deaths from endometrial cancer, so I feel even better about my decision. There are side effects with every medication, and stroke risks increase if you smoke while using oral contraceptives. With all we know about the harmfulness of smoking I’m surprised this is still an issue, but it must be said. I have no medical training obviously, and it’s always better to discuss this plan with your doctor.
Planned Parenthood does some good.
You have no doubt seen the outrage associated with Planned Parenthood circulating the web. When I first read the headlines, my heart sank. I was sickened and confused; how could this be? But I’m the type of person who doesn’t always believe what I’m told- I prefer to dig deeper, research, and form my own opinion. I am an annoying person. I will not discuss abortion or my feelings regarding it now or ever, but, per the Hyde Amendment, “federal funds cannot be used to pay for abortion, unless the pregnancy arises from incest, rape, or to save the life of the mother.” The federal money PP receives is mostly from grants and Medicaid and goes to cancer and health screenings, as well as the distribution of birth control, to low-income women. Harry Reid claimed this week that 30% of women use PP for healthcare- that figure is grossly exaggerated. The best numbers I can find come from PP’s website: 2.7 million women and men use their services each year, resulting in 400,000 Pap Smears, 500,000 breast exams, and 700,000 HIV tests. I have never been in the situation where affording healthcare was a problem, but it is a reality many of our peers face.
PP is also NOT selling body parts for profit. As gruesome and trying as it is to discuss, sometimes tissue is donated for scientific research on Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. I’m not arguing whether or not it’s ethical, but it IS legal, and NOT sold for profit. The money discussed in the videos is for storage and shipment costs. Again, I am not here to debate the ethics and morality of this situation. I cannot touch it. After reading the transcripts of the video and conducting a little research, I simply wanted to share what I found. It’s a tough topic but one that must be truthfully discussed. Here’s a partial transcript of the video.
The point I’m trying to make through my personal story and rambling is that we need to be able to discuss our healthcare concerns openly. It’s not shameful- it’s LIFE. We deserve awareness and access to these life-saving tests. We should feel we’re being told the truth and that our leaders have our best interests in mind. And that while women’s healthcare is not an important issue to some of our presidential candidates, it is important to me. As a sister, aunt, and hopefully future mother, the health of the people I love should never be compromised. I hope you’ll watch the first presidential debate tonight and listen to the issues at hand. You are worth it.
I do want to know- what do you think of this topic? Please be kind to me and one another; I know this is sensitive but want us to be able to discuss this topic openly.