Just because the 2016 election is over doesn't mean that Joss Whedon (The Avengers, Buffy The Vampire Slayer) is going to stop making progressively-minded public service announcements. Today he’s released a new video in support of Planned Parenthood, the nonprofit organization that provides sex education and reproductive health services to almost five million people in the United States each year. Check it out below:
The video depicts, in slow reverse motion, how three women’s lives could affected by a lack of access to Planned Parenthood. One woman misses out on a pap smear and collapses (speaking of which, Black and Latina women have a much higher risk of developing cervical cancer); another gets pregnant without adequate contraception and loses out on a life-changing scholarship; yet another doesn’t know how to explain to her friend the dangers of being sexually active, and her friend ends up getting an STI from a partner. It’s a little cheesy in its execution, sure, but these are all scenarios that are painfully real, and very likely to happen if Planned Parenthood clinics do not have the money they need to keep their doors open.
Thanks to decades of targeted misinformation campaigns against Planned Parenthood, many people assume the organization’s primary function is to provide taxpayer-funded abortions to women. Putting aside any opinions or feelings you might have about whether abortion is or is not acceptable (in the interest of full disclosure, I myself am thoroughly pro-choice), that narrative is blatantly false. While many Planned Parenthood clinics do offer abortions, their website states that abortions only make up 3% of all health services provided, and are not paid for from the federal funding Planned Parenthood receives because current U.S. law prohibits it.
If the government withdrew that funding from Planned Parenthood, then it’s the other 97% of services — including cancer screenings, prenatal care, testing for sexually transmitted infections, contraception ( a lot of women use the hormones in birth control pills for reasons that have nothing to do with contraception, like clearing up acne or relieving extremely painful menstrual cramps), and sex education and outreach, all of which can affect both female and male patients of all ages — that are more likely to become inaccessible.
Considering that one out of every five women in the U.S. has visited a Planned Parenthood at one point in their lives, that’s a lot of people (mostly from low-income areas) who'd be missing out on an important service Basically, stripping funding from Planned Parenthood is akin to doing the same thing to Medicaid — although on a related note, ThinkProgress recently suggested that shutting down Planned Parenthood would also cause Medicaid spending to rise astronomically, because more unwanted pregnancies will lead to a bigger financial burden on our current system. It's also worth pointing out that in 2011, the Texas state government voted to cut Planned Parenthood from various women's health programs, and now the maternal death rate there is higher than anywhere else in the developed world. There isn't a one-to-one correlation, of course, but it's troubling nonetheless.
However, those are just static facts and figures; it’s hard to develop an emotional attachment to them unless you or someone you know has experienced what it’s like to seriously worry about your own reproductive health and safety. That’s why, for me, it’s so heartening to see Joss Whedon trying to use his powers for good. It's just like watching "The Body," except maybe it'll inspire someone to make a difference in the world!
You can #StandWithPP by visiting the Planned Parenthood website and making a donation, or by contacting your elected officials. Let us know what you thought about the PSA in the comments below!
Images: Joss Whedon, Gabrielle Sanchez on Giphy