Planned Parenthood is a life-giving organization.
Many in the media, communities and churches would say otherwise. They focus on only three percent of their services—pregnancy termination—instead of the 97 percent of medical care and advice they give not only to women, but also to men.
But maybe today someone found new life at Planned Parenthood because of its services.
Maybe today they helped a woman find pre-cancerous cells on her cervix at a facility where she could afford a well-woman exam this year.
Maybe the condoms they handed out this morning helped a woman or man avoid a life-altering disease.
Maybe they were the first health professionals to suggest the pain a woman’s been having is endometriosis or PCOS – especially since many women are told horrific menstrual pain is “normal.”
Maybe they helped a woman afford an IUD so she won’t have to consider abortion for the next five years.
Maybe one woman had a pregnancy-terminating procedure at a safe place instead of having to perform it herself.
Maybe this procedure saved her life. And maybe the remnant-fetal tissue she permitted to be tested will help to cure life-robbing illnesses like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS.
This is all life-giving.
I often wonder what would happen if politicians attempting to defund this organization would have to walk in the shoes of the average woman. What would happen if they faced the excruciatingly painful periods, news that their pap tests came back abnormal or anxiety after their condom broke?
What would happen if they knew they would lose their job or their way of living if they brought the pregnancy to full term? Or what would happen if they knew their body could not carry a pregnancy to full term due to failing health but there were few services to terminate the pregnancy?
Would they continue to berate one of the few health care systems still available to women of every economic group?
The prophet Jeremiah asks: “Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has they health of my poor people not been restored?”
Without Planned Parenthood, there will be no physician available to many people in poverty.
Ultimately, many of us who identify as women wonder: do they really care about our bodies?
Are our bodies to be objectified but not nurtured?
Do they care about the thriving of our lives?
Don’t they know in whose image our bodies are made?
Women are made in God’s image.
When programs like Planned Parenthood are defunded and degraded, we treat women like their bodies are less valuable than men’s. We treat the sexual expression of women as taboo and the misfortunes in the health of women’s reproductive selves as byproducts of shame.
Women are not paying Eve’s debt. Pain and illness are not given to us by God because of our gender.
Defunding Planned Parenthood shouldn’t be a form of revenge on Eve, Gomer, Vashti and all of the unruly women of the Bible and all of the “badly-behaved” women of today.
Defunding Planned Parenthood robs women of the mercy Jesus gave to the woman at the well, the woman with the hemorrhage and the woman being stoned as punishment for adultery. Embracing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health care reflects the mercy Jesus had for the women of his time and the wellness God wants for us right now.
Through services like Planned Parenthood, we set aside the theological fallacy that one gender’s body is worth less than another’s and dismantle the shame that women carry. We fully embrace that all genders are created in the image of God and support health care that endorses the wholeness of women’s bodies, minds and souls.
Rev. Michelle L. Torigian is the pastor of St. Paul United Church of Christ, Old Blue Rock Road in Cincinnati, Ohio. Prior to ministry, Torigian worked in fundraising and marketing for nonprofits as her previous career. She graduated from Eden Theological Seminary in 2010. Torigian is the author of a number of articles on the Huffington Post Religion page including “Between Childless and Childfree,” a reflection for Mother’s Day. Recently, her essay “Always the Pastor, Never the Bride” was published in the book “There’s a Woman in the Pulpit” (Skylight Paths Publishing, 2015). Torigian regularly posts her musings on current events, justice issues, pop culture, and theology at www.michelletorigian.com.