The Punishment for having sex while poor

The elitist arguments against funding Planned Parenthood

America’s health care system is neither healthy, caring, nor a system.
Walter Cronkite

I am not going to go into the arguments about Planned Parenthood in regards to politics, reproductive rights or abortion. Those have been discussed at length all over the net. What I do want to note is the argument that keeps coming up by those against using federal funds for Planned Parenthood. I am not referring to the “they’re killing babies” argument (zero dollars of government funding for Planned Parenthood is used for abortions.) I am referring to the elitist prejudice cropping up everywhere: poor women who can’t afford babies deserve to be punished.

Of all of the forms of inequality, injustice in health is the most shocking and the most inhumane.
- Martin Luther King, Jr

It took me a long time to write this post because I had to keep getting away from the computer to recharge my spirit with my children. At times, I despair at the lack of compassion for others that runs rampant on internet discussions, but this one truly crushed me for awhile. I tried to entertain reasons for the utter carelessness that people can toss around. I was in denial that the people I share this planet with could be looking at everyone else from such a place of hatred. Here is a typical example:

I do not think it is fair that many people sit at home (or where ever they live because they have not grown up enough to be responsible), collect welfare and continue having children. Actually it pisses me off. I understand people need help at times. I also understand just how many sit on their ass and whine about not having shit because the government gives out money like it is candy! I can not really believe just how many people think it is someone else’s responsibility to take care of them. Whatever happened to personal responsibility? It is actually dangerous that people like you advocate for more government funding because you don’t like the idea of being responsible. Sex creates babies. It is a fact and people having sex know that. So if they can not afford their own birth control they do not need to be having sex.1

I don’t want to add to the vitriol, so I will only share this one comment (feel free to google the Planned Parenthood funding articles and read the comments for more if you enjoy feeling depressed.) Basically, the comments seem to boil down to poor people women are lazy and living off other people’s hard work combined with the misogynist attitude that if you have sex and can’t afford to pay for insurance, then you deserve to be punished because you are a dirty, dirty girl.

If access to health care is considered a human right, who is considered human enough to have that right? – Paul Farmer

But, here’s the thing. I believe that things like food, shelter, love, compassion, and health care are basic human rights. And I don’t care whether you are rich or poor, hardworking or lazy. Everyone, Everyone deserves the dignity of proper health care simply because they are human. And I’m willing to pay for you, elitist anonymous commenter, if you need a cancer screening, treatment for an STD, or pap smear, even if you wouldn’t pay for mine.  It does not matter to me whether you lack compassion for your fellow men and women. I have compassion for you simply because you are human-like me, no matter how much you wish you weren’t.

So, here are a few more humans who have a much more eloquent way of stating what needs to be said:

Sickness is poor-spirited, and cannot serve anyone; it must husband its resources to live. But health or fullness answers its own ends, and has to spare, runs over, and inundates the neighborhoods and creeks of other men’s necessities.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

I am convinced that whenever we exaggerate or demonize, oversimplify or overstate our case, we lose. Whenever we dumb down the political debate, we lose. For it’s precisely the pursuit of ideological purity, the rigid orthodoxy and the sheer predictability of our current political debate, that keeps us from finding new ways to meet the challenges we face as a country. It’s what keeps us locked in “either/or” thinking: the notion that we can only have big government or no government; the assumption that we must either tolerate forty-six million without health insurance or embrace “socialized medicine.”
Barack Obama

It will take a massive effort to move society from corporate domination, in which industry’s rights to pollute and damage health and the environment supersede the public’s right to live, work, and play in safety. This is a political fight. The science is already there, showing that people’s health is at risk. To win, we will need to keep building the movement, networking with one another, planning, strategizing, and moving forward. Our children’s futures, and those of their unborn children, are at stake.
Lois Gibbs

When it comes to global health, there is no ‘them’… only “us.”
Global Health Council

All mankind… being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.
John Locke

Photo credit: OTI Archives: Spring 1994

5 thoughts on “The Punishment for having sex while poor

  1. Ah, this is why I believe in our system here in Canada. Your quote “I believe that things like food, shelter, love, compassion, and health care are basic human rights” is how it started with Tommy Douglas and the CCF (sorry Canadian history there) and how some of us are trying to save it. Unfortunately, we have our own version of the “right” that is becoming more and more like the tea party than our traditional small c conservatives. Some time I truly despair about human nature.

    But then I read posts like these and I know that there is goodness out there.

  2. Thank you for writing such a sensitive piece on the subject. I get so angry about this that I cannot write about it without going off on a rage.

    You wrote “I believe that things like food, shelter, love, compassion, and health care are basic human rights.” Yes, this. I consider taxes to be the membership dues for belonging to a civilized society that provides the basic necessities for all people.

    Don’t these elitist bigots realize that what’s good for the most marginalized members of society is good for them? When poor people have access to health care and proper nutrition (WIC is another program in danger of being cut) general public health is better and they and their children are more safe? Don’t they realize that when children have access to education and opportunity they don’t turn to crime, but rather become active contributors to the economy, which, again, makes them and their children safer and contributes to a healthier economy for the country? GAAA! There I go again. I’ll step off my soapbox now.

    Great blog by the way. I’m quite sure I’ll be back.

    • Thank you for the complements. I also get really mad and writing is a good outlet for me. When I started writing, I realized it was so angry and negative that it was not something I would want to post. It would just add to the argument and belligerence already out there. It was painful, but afterward good to feel that part of myself, understand, and accept it. It freed up my true feelings instead of what I “wish” others would believe. That always trips me up.

  3. I was actually involved in a discussion in which the other party said, “If you want to have sex, great, but why do I have to pay for it?” When I mentioned that when I used PP it was for well-woman care when I was married and working full-time and unable to afford the inflated prices for the uninsured, the other party insisted the statement was intended as a joke.

    I suppose that’s a danger of commenting online: joking and sarcasm don’t always translate well. Especially when they’re not really jokes.

    I’m stepping away from these discussions now because, like you, I need to be recharged. It hurts my heart. Thank you for such a lovely post. I’m linking to it now rather than continuing to write out my own comments.

I love comments and try to reply to each one. I look forward to connecting with you. Namaste

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