Quick! What comes to mind when you think about a client of Planned Parenthood of Southern Nevada? Ask yourself, is it an image crafted by oppositional, anti-choice rhetoric?
Let me guess: She is a young, godless woman. She’s probably African-American or Hispanic. She’s uneducated. She is sexually promiscuous and engages in dangerous behavior. She’s a hard-drinking gal who parties all night and sleeps with men she doesn’t even know. She lives without a plan and certainly doesn’t practice safe sex! And, let me guess, she thinks of abortion as birth control because it’s convenient. Why can’t she just keep her legs shut?
Got it. We know the image. These are the myths and stereotypes that the religious right and anti-choice terrorists love to trot out again, and again, and again….
And we can read between the lines: These women are godless sluts who deserve what they get. And worse yet, they are poor and not white. That’s the worst thing you can be in America, right? We hate the poor. And you don’t have to be a student of American history to know that this country has a terrible track record on race. I don’t often write about race because I am a white woman. And I know enough to know that I can’t speak with any kind of authority about being a woman of color in this country. But I can tell you that even as a white woman I find these kinds of myths offensive and incredibly insulting. The subtext about the myth of the Planned Parenthood harlot is that only women who have no worth go there. And if only people of no worth go there, why do we need Planned Parenthood?
But this very act of debasing and dehumanizing the clients of Planned Parenthood is exactly what the opposition has to do to wage the War on Women. They have to take away our humanity, our contributions to society, our love for our families, and the responsibility and courage it takes to utilize all forms of legal, safe healthcare. And the only crime about this scenario is that people who get healthcare at Planned Parenthood have to be brave to do so.
How has the world gone so askew that the very act of obtaining healthcare become a subversive act?
So, let’s talk about the reality of real Planned Parenthood of Southern Nevada clients! According to their 2010 fiscal year report, 98% of PPSN clients are uninsured or underinsured and 27% live below the federal poverty line. (However, more than 25% live at or above 250% of the poverty line.) The majority of their clients are, in fact, white (50%). Only 24% are Hispanic and less than nine percent are African-American. And, as it turns out, the majority of PPSN’s clients, 80%, are ages 20-39. Indeed, only 13% are 19 years or younger.
So, it turns out that the majority of the women (6% of their clients are men) who get healthcare at PPSN are not teenagers. They are white. And they are poor. And I’m willing to bet they are not sluts because calling a woman a slut is just a way to shame her for having a vagina. So, the tired old anti-choice tropes just don’t hold water against the truth.
Meanwhile, PPSN is trying to do more with less year after year. They served more than 18,000 unduplicated clients at their three Las Vegas area clinics in 2010, more than a 3% increase over fiscal year 2009. But the total visits to their three clinics rose by more than 8% for that same time period.
And every year PPSN runs out of funding before the fiscal year ends. So clearly, there has never been a better time to help PPSN out. With the depressed Las Vegas economy, more people than ever need PPSN’s services. So helping them is helping our community to be healthier.
Please make a contribution to PPSN today in honor of The Sin City Siren’s 4th anniversary. Click here to donate. (And please designate that it is in honor of The Sin City Siren.)