Letters to the Editor: “Whitworth: Cut Ties with Planned Parenthood”

Planned Parenthood is a family planning clinic focused on sexual health care. It is not an organization that simply “tears apart a living human being limb-from-limb.” They provide STI tests, contraception and other services to make it easier for sexually active people, who guess what? Go to Whitworth! That’s right! People at Whitworth have sex! Who knew?! People at Whitworth have received abortions. And I guess no one cared to mention in this article all the other amazing work Planned Parenthood does. It is a myth that most of what Planned Parenthood does is conduct abortions. There has been a fair share of skewed misinformation released thanks to Republican news outlets over the last several years that have claimed that abortion amounted to more than 90 percent of Planned Parenthood activities when in fact that is completely false. This type of argument entirely ignores all of the vital good this organization does for lower-income women’s reproductive health.

It is not a man’s place to decide what a woman does with her body. It is a woman’s basic right to make the heart-wrenching choice to have an abortion. The argument that James makes is perpetuating the oppressive stance in opposition to a woman’s right to choose by politicians who think they have a right to make women’s most personal, sensitive health care decisions for them.

It is disturbing that those who believe in anti-abortion — or rather, pro-fetal-life at all costs — do not consider extremely difficult situations that would still ban abortions with no exemptions, not even in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the woman is threatened. Male politicians and men in general, do not have the authority to dictate a woman’s most sensitive reproductive health care decisions. Many times “pro-life” conservative views actually resonate more with anti-abortion and no matter how hard people try to argue against this, it’s still so hard for me to believe in many cases that conservatives like the columnist of this opinions article is actually pro-life. From where I am standing, it seems as though “life” to you is one that bears a very striking resemblance to someone like you — it seems to me that you are very pro-straight, white Christian fetuses. The unborn are easy to advocate for because you can idealize them into something palatable for you. If that life eventually comes out as an LGBTQ member, converts to Islam, has brown skin, lives in Inner City Detroit, or several other situations, you will label it as dangerous, see it as a threat, tell it where and when it can use a public bathroom, readily blame it for its own execution and oppression, and tell it to pull itself up by its own bootstraps when you are a part of a system that does not allow it to get the boots at all. In the US, it’s not a secret that men determining laws and regulations surrounding abortion are overwhelmingly white and they continue to make paternalistic, ill-informed, epistemologically distorted decision on behalf of women, especially lower status, less privileged, poor women of color.

Conservative views like those of James Silberman are easy to debunk, but it’s also important to note that we might be missing the bigger point. The assault on Planned Parenthood is not just about the crushing of baby body parts, but also a larger war on women. Conservative efforts try to push abstinence-only education, (which does not work), to shut down family planning clinics, and even refusing to fund programs that have been reducing teen births like the award-winning IUD program. To me, it just sounds like conservatives have a goal to make sexual health harder for women, especially low-income women, to have happy and healthy sex lives.

When it comes to women’s rights, especially with respect to sex and reproduction, you really should just leave it to women. In many cases, women do not feel comfortable talking about their abortions because they don’t want to be shamed or ridiculed, something that the author of this article clearly did.

I wish all human beings actually mattered this much to you. If they did, I think you would be doing much more than preventing abortions. You’d want to prevent racism and bigotry and homophobia. You would want to support single parents and you’d want religious freedom even for people who aren’t Christian. You’d want people of color not to have to fear law enforcement and not to be disproportionately incarcerated. You’d want a living wage for all people who work hard and healthcare for children that won’t have to replace daily meals.

No one against your article is celebrating abortions. No one likes abortions. However, my advocacy for life goes well beyond the womb and I wish James, that your advocacy would too.

Also — A reminder that it’s not only women who get abortions, and we should include folks like trans men, non-binary people, and gender non-conforming folks in the conversation too! Abortion rhetoric is highly gendered. Rarely is it even acknowledged that abortion patients are not exclusively cis women. The fact that abortion is so often framed from a privileged perspective means that those who are marginalized in other ways are not being heard and their stories aren’t seen as important. We [need to] recognize that cissexism within reproductive rights activism and stand with trans people.

— Camina Hirota ’17

The Pinecone Curtain: Synonymous with Censorship?

I typically do not write editors in response to opinion pieces, but James Silberman’s uniformed article calling for Whitworth to cut ties with Planned Parenthood took it too far.

My first issue has to do with the research and quality of information presented in the article. Not only does Silberman spew uncorroborated statistics, but one article he quotes from had a corrigendum due to “discrepancies of [their] analyses pertaining to abortion and mental health,” and thus is not a reliable source. The information provided is not only unfounded, but could also have harmful outcomes by keeping people away from the helpful services Planned Parenthood does provide, abortions aside. 

Looking past the poorly conducted research and the misrepresentation of Planned Parenthood, what I find most egregious is seeing the Whitworthian publishing a piece advocating for censorship on a university campus.

At the end of the piece Silberman calls for “Whitworth trustees, administration, and applicable faculty to… remove Planned Parenthood from list of community partners… remove planned parenthood cards from campus walls… review the textbooks being used in classrooms. Discuss content… consider getting new books…”

Is that not censorship?

College is intended to be a place for learning and growth. It is a place to be exposed to different points of view – not a place to be coddled and protected from reality.

In Whitworth’s Commitment to Diversity they claim to seek to “model Christ’s love across racial, ethic, socio-economic, religious and other expressions of human difference.” Whitworth is committed to diversity, but what Silberman is encouraging Whitworth to do – cut ties with Planned Parenthood and censor them out from textbooks, would extinguish diversity of thought.

– Olivia Domini ’14

Planned Parenthood is not a “human butcher shop”

As an alumnus of Whitworth, an employee of Planned Parenthood and most importantly — a female, I am incredibly disappointed in the Whitworthian for allowing such a misinformed and harmful piece like this to be published. I found the recent op-ed to be extremely offensive and distasteful. It is a vicious attack on all women, everywhere, who have ever utilized the services that Planned Parenthood offers, which of course, is no one’s business but their own. By concluding that Whitworth supports the “abortion industry” because they have partnered with Planned Parenthood to allow students to intern and volunteer there is a far-fetched correlation, at best. I feel it necessary to also acknowledge that Planned Parenthood is not the cause of abortion, Planned Parenthood was a solution to the unsafe abortion practices happening. Over these next few paragraphs I would like to touch on the considerable amount of misinformation and blatant lies disseminated in the article to the Whitworth campus and community.

By suggesting that Whitworth cut ties with Planned Parenthood as a service-learning organization, remove info cards around campus, and remove textbooks that reference abortion related services, you are completely closing the doors for healthy and informational dialogue to take place. Isn’t the purpose of the service-learning program at Whitworth to engage students in critical and creative thinking and structured reflection? Pushing such blatantly partisan narrative seriously harms the well-being of females across campus, who actually do need a place like Planned Parenthood to turn to in time of need. Not only is the female population affected by such propaganda, but the opportunity for their male peers to learn and fully engage as supportive allies in a women’s right to choose is completely dismantled. Of course, this is concluding that the only services Planned Parenthood offers is abortion services which is not the truth, nor anywhere near it.

It was stated that Planned Parenthood only provided three different pregnancy-specific services, of which “323,99 out of 343,422” are abortions. I vigorously searched for the data that backed this statement and was unsuccessful. By mentioning only pregnancy-related services, you’re completely discrediting the abundance of other services Planned Parenthood has to offer. Planned Parenthood offers a number of reproductive health services for women, tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections for both men and women, and counseling on a number of issues. Only three percent of all Planned Parenthood health services are abortion services. If abortion is ultimately the issue, then wouldn’t it be counter-productive to take away information from campus for females to find a safe and affordable place to receive birth control and counseling on safe sex practices?

While the author states that the, “willful blindness to the realities of abortion in a university textbook is astonishing” and the real ‘tragedy’ is that the “students in these classes are being fed malicious lies,” I think its quite apparent to see that the only real tragedy here is that someone actually believes himself to know what is best for Whitworth and females across campus, considering he himself, does not have a uterus. It has been proven time and time again that when young people have affordable, safe and easily accessible resources to birth control and other prevention services, the rate in unplanned pregnancies and spread of STI’s will dramatically decrease. Prevention is key here and cutting ties to an organization like Planned Parenthood will result in higher rates of young people practicing unsafe sex. I encourage readers to engage more critically with information around them to come to better informed opinions. Planned Parenthood is a wonderful organization, that for many women, is their only source of reliable healthcare. Abortion accounts for a small fraction of what they do, and those who try and paint them as merely an “abortion clinic” harm only the women who often desperately need their services. We must acknowledge the truth — Whitworth students have sex, so let’s make sure that the resources to be safe about it are there for everyone to use.

— Lena Negrete ’13