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Opinion

Planned Parenthood discussions bring about heated arguments

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October 8, 2015

Planned Parenthood. Just those two words have an intense and immediate ability to divide people into two groups.

If you are aware of what is going on in the world, you cannot escape the barrage of news stories about abortions, pro-life funding, bad charts, video footage… I could go on. And on. I will be the first to say that I have a very clear opinion about Planned Parenthood, and then I will say that only three people know exactly how I feel about this issue that seems to get more and more controversial. Out of all the people I know, love, like, and talk to, only THREE people know my thoughts/opinions/emotions related to Planned Parenthood. Want to know why?

The congressional hearings regarding the funding of Planned Parenthood was just one of the many eye-openers I have had about what the consequences are of supporting an organization devoted to women’s health and abortions (two separate ideas because it has become the norm to separate the issue of women’s abortions with women’s overall health and well-being).

When you speak out on a topic that is as mundane as women’s health you are vilified, attacked, and made to think you are less of a human-being for supporting a cause that saves so many lives; and yes, I am including mothers who have had abortions in this. Want to look to someone who is bearing the brunt of everyone’s hateful, ignorant, and negative comments? Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards knows what it is really like to stand behind and broadcast her beliefs; what it is really like to have more than three people know what she stands for.

Most importantly though, I need to talk about how we talk to each other. Just this Monday, Oct. 5, was a national day about anti-bullying. Such a day could not be more appropriate for the current climate of the United States. With bullying campaigns directed at children in schools around the country, hero stories and, unfortunately, tragic losses from bullying have been reported from all corners of the United States. But in our haste to create a new generation of kids who are consciously putting an end to bullying, I don’t think that enough people are seeing the bigger picture. Adults, grown men and women who live and work in our country seem to forget that bullying is something that they very much need to be aware of as it is extremely present in their day-to-day interactions as well. How is it that, in our advanced society, we cannot have equal respect or any modicum of kindness towards people who don’t see the world in exactly the same way as we do?

Looking at the congressional hearings on the funding of Planned Parenthood, it is refreshing, and surprising, to see that Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards being so respectful to people who were trying their very hardest to discredit and criminalize everything she stands for. I am even more astonished because the treatment of Planned Parenthood’s CEO in front of and by Congress was so inexcusable. The way she was ganged up on, how she was talked to—or rather shouted at. The incessant interruptions, the types of questions being asked (about her salary, for instance), false data (that graph did not even have a “y” axis!). I can’t say that my composure would have been as unbreakable as hers, or that I would have not responded to their ‘questioning’ in such an even and calm manner, but I like to believe that I am at least aware of the responsibility I have of how I should treat people, regardless if I like them or not.

How well do you think you would have done? Are you able to have a civil conversation with someone who holds vastly different beliefs than you and still treat them as a person deserving of respect, kindness, and at least some understanding? I can’t say that I am all that surprised by people in general, kids included, who have a difficult time in being respectful and just plain tolerant of their fellow human beings. Doesn’t anyone know that kids learn by example? It is so important to remember and acknowledge the huge role of communication in our world, that when we are unable to even talk to people about issues that so affect our daily lives we cannot accomplish anything.

Lauren Simenson is a student at UW-River Falls.