By Rachel Epstein ’18

Arts & Life Editor

This summer, I interned with a women’s advocacy group as a telephone counselor. I counseled women through various legal processes of divorce, custody, rape, domestic violence and other women’s issues.

One day, a call came through from a young woman needing an abortion. For demographic reasons, I asked for her birthday and when I filled in the year, my heart dropped; she was a minor, making her ineligible to get an abortion without her parents consent.

The young woman explained that her parents could never find out because they were strictly religious and she would be thrown out onto the streets. She was from one of the most volatile areas in the city and the streets were severely dangerous.  We went through the legal process together and then she asked where the nearest clinic to her was because she didn’t have access to the internet.

That’s when I discovered the Planned Parenthood websites had been hacked. There was nothing I could do and no way to assure this woman that she would even be able to get the help she needed in a safe and secure way. While only about 3% of Planned Parenthood procedures are abortions, the reality is that this young woman could have easily suffered without access to the organization. She would have been homeless in one of the worst neighborhoods in America and likely would not have been able to carry the baby to term.

Simply put: every vote against the funding of Planned Parenthood is an attack on women’s health and women’s rights.

And that’s exactly what the Ohio Senate did in a 23-10 vote against government funding of an organization that provides mammograms, pap smears, contraception, counseling, abortions, and STD testing.

These are all services that keep women healthy, informed and safe. A woman’s right to do what she pleases to her body is paramount and this includes keeping it healthy. Planned Parenthood makes this possible in conjunction with Medicaid. The organization is preventative; it has very little to do with abortions (which by the way is a legal medical procedure no matter where you stand on it).

Here’s what I truly don’t understand about the 23 people who voted against Planned Parenthood: 3 clinic visits based on sound choice are a lot cheaper than 18+ years of taxpayer dollars.

By this, I mean that if a woman knows she is unable to care for a child and makes the informed decision to not go through with a pregnancy, Medicaid will shell out about $400-700 for her to make that choice. But, if this same women has little to no access to these services and is forced to go through with the pregnancy, the taxpayer holds a far greater nominal responsibility to care for the child. That’s 18 years of taxpayers paying for public education. If the mother is on welfare, that’s 18 years of food, shelter, and clothing the taxpayer is providing.

Of the 33 Ohio senators, 24 are middle-aged or older Republican men. This means that 72 percent of our own state legislation who chose to vote against women’s health services have never experienced a single women’s health issue that Planned Parenthood could potentially prevent or treat.

Why is it that women are still under the thumb of men when it comes to their own bodies and healthcare?If it seems counter intuitive to give a job to someone who is unqualified or uninformed, then why allow men to make vital decisions about women’s issues when they are unaware of the situations women face? If one of these men in the Ohio senate can stand up and say that they understand not being able to afford an exam when they find a lump in their breast or the fear of being unable to care for something growing, living and breathing inside of their body then I will gladly change my argument.