Congress is heading off today for a 5 week vacation and there appears to be a very decent chance that when they resume their work in September, we could be headed for another budget stalemate over the federal funding of Planned Parenthood in reaction to the recent string of videos released by anti-abortion groups.

First of all, let me say this. I am extremely grateful for Planned Parenthood as an organization, as my wife and I utilized their services when we first got married and had absolutely no money and could not afford contraception. To think that Planned Parenthood is just a place where women go to get abortions is an incredibly ignorant viewpoint, as they provide services covering the full range of women’s health, including cancer screening, HIV screening, and counseling. I am extremely grateful that we were able to rely on this resource in our younger lives, as it gave us a necessary spring board to develop some stability and be better able to support and care for a family.

Now, I really want to deconstruct this term of “pro-life”. I went to a pro-life rally when I was a kid, but it was really quite confusing, because the rally was much more focused on what the group was against (abortion) than what the group was for. If we’re going to be “pro-life”, doesn’t that have a broader meaning beyond just trying to get rid of abortion? For example, the fetal tissue from abortion procedures that is at the heart of the current controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood was being used in research that could lead to new developments in the treatment of illnesses for people who are currently suffering. I’m not saying I love the idea of abortion, but I’d much rather provide women the option of having a clean and safe procedure and use the fetal tissue to further our understanding of medicine and biology than to have women bleeding out in their bathroom from an unsafe procedure or dumping a baby in a dumpster because they just don’t know what else to do.

Here’s the reality: this latest attempt by religious conservatives to cut public funding from Planned Parenthood will, like so many other issues (read: Affordable Care Act), will disproportionately impact the most poor and vulnerable citizens in our society, and that is just plan unjust. Women with resources will always be able to access whatever procedures they want. Women with less resources depend upon services like Planned Parenthood to maintain their health, wellness, independence, and dignity.

Leadership is not always just standing up for what you believe in. It’s also being willing to examine areas where you might be biased, and then it’s speaking up for those who can’t speak up for themselves.

I don’t want to be pissed anymore, I want things to change. Can we please start having reasonable conversations about these important issues, without resorting to name-calling, fear-mongering, and jumping to assumptions before we have all the facts?

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