A recent New York Times article explored the depths of political struggle that abortion advocates are facing as they attempt to unite the Democratic Party in a fight for unrestricted access to abortion. In the piece, Amanda Reyes, Director of the Yellowhammer Fund (an organization that raises money for women in Alabama to obtain abortions) makes an interesting statement about the work of her group. “If all we do as an organization is pay for abortions for low-income people, we are eugenicists,” she says. “That is not transformational work. That is slapping a Band-Aid on a huge problem.”
According to the piece, Reyes’ Yellowhammer Fund seeks to serve low-income families and women of color more comprehensively. They plan to offer services like doula care and to provide diapers and pregnancy tests in new, “reproductive justice centers” that are, according to the piece, created to compete head-to-head with crisis pregnancy centers. Ms. Reyes vision also includes access to financial and health care resources for any additional children a woman may have.
Kudos for Ms. Reyes for recognizing seeing that abortion doesn’t offer any solutions. Truth is, Care Net has tried to make the case that every person who cares about quality care for low-income women should actually support pregnancy centers. Women who are truly in need and facing pregnancy need more than just some cash to cover an abortion. They need support on every level, a listening ear, and someone who cares. This is what Care Net affiliates provide at their centers.
Reyes’ is right. Access to abortion, funneling low-income women in and out of clinics, over and again, doesn’t inspire real change. Abortion clinics don’t offer hope for relief from poverty, father absence, or addiction.
But Reyes, as the New York Times clearly delineates, swims against the stream in the abortion rights world. Enabling a woman to have the freedom to make an informed choice about her pregnancy is not the goal of most in the industry. Their funding, their political status, and their platform is not truly about choice—it’s about helping women have abortions.
Reyes also breaks the mold in her use of the term “eugenics.” One look at where most Planned Parenthood and abortion clinics are housed reveals that low-income women are their target market. If these women aren’t given options beyond abortion—is there any doubt that, at a minimum, abortion clinics practice a light version of eugenics? When some women have the resources to make a choice, and other women, lower-income women, aren’t offered those same options—how are we not discriminating against this group?
Sure, abortion advocates argue that it’s about access to medical care. The clinics are needed more in these areas because the women can’t afford to get care elsewhere.
But the question isn’t whether or not the women served by Planned Parenthood are in need. The question is whether or not the women they serve are being served well? Are they discouraged from keeping their child? Are they given accurate information about all of their options? Do they feel cared for, knowing that if they chose to keep their child they’d have a safe place to continue to receive support?
Transforming Planned Parenthood into an organization that was about more than abortion is the type of thinking that got Dr. Leana Wen fired from her role as the organization’s president. According to Planned Parenthood’s annual report, the organization performed 321,384 abortions but only 3,889 adoption referrals. That’s one referral for every 82 abortions. When contrasted with the number of abortions performed, only 2% of their clients received any prenatal support. Even the New York Times clarified that the “other medical services” provided by Planned Parenthood are classified as contraception, testing for sexually transmitted disease, and hormone therapy for those wishing to physically attempt to alter their gender.
Let’s be honest. Planned Parenthood’s top executives are political operatives, not doctors. Their mission is abortion, not healthcare. And Reyes, though she represents a group that funds abortion access, is mostly right. Providing abortions doesn’t change hearts or lives. Abortion can’t transform families or communities. Poor women need more than just a pill or a procedure, or their problems remain. Yet, politically, poor women suffer under the tyranny of the belief that abortion access is more important than just about everything…including providing these women with real solutions to their problems.