Happy New Year?

…only the passing of time will answer that question.  If you have become both obsessed and disgusted with political news, I share your pain.  I desperately want to turn everything off, but I can’t help myself.

There is a lot…a LOT…of work coming our way in the next few years.  One of the reasons I feel unusually burdened with pessimism is that we have seen what the people who are soon to be in charge of our country are willing to do.  For the past 6 years, our House of Representatives has repeatedly voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act without regard for the 20 million citizens that found essential health coverage as a result of its passage.  And for the past year and a half, that same Congress has spent millions of our tax dollars in an effort to deny affordable and free family planning to millions of people in need.

Family planning is a no-brainer. It’s good for families, good for communities, and good for the country.  It makes so much sense that I am constantly amazed that it is still considered controversial.  The fact that we have a national legislature made up of hundreds of individuals, a possible majority of which are willing to throw out subsidized family planning services for low income women in order to make sure that Planned Parenthood doesn’t get any of the money is simply outrageous.

The marginalization of family planning in medical care, contraception as well as abortion, is not good for anybody.  As a reminder, Planned Parenthood began providing contraception to those in need long before anyone else in the medical profession was willing to do so…and long before abortion became legal.  Although our culture’s acceptance of contraception has increased dramatically, there remain many doctor’s offices and hospitals where contraception is not discussed, much less offered.  The growing dominance of Catholic health systems has steadily eroded access to physicians willing or able to prescribe contraception.  The need for Planned Parenthood is even greater today because of this, and the risk of losing access to affordable contraception due to Congress’s persistent efforts is higher in all our communities.

I tend toward optimism so I’m always looking for the silver lining, and I’m hopeful that some positive changes will come from renewed awareness of the dangerous policies our new government plans to pursue.  We can argue about whether abortion should be considered family planning, but my bottom line is the strong belief that no person should have to be pregnant who does not want to be.  I, and all the members of Medical Students for Choice, will do whatever we can to ensure that families, no matter their makeup, can find the medical care they need to make that decision safely.

-Lois Backus
Executive Director