The English idiom: “a picture is worth a thousand words," aptly describes newly sworn-in president-elect, Donald Trump, as he climbed out of the chauffeured vehicle, leaving his wife behind, never once looking for her, or taking the time to do what usually comes naturally for most couples-a little thoughtfulness and a willingness to share such a historic moment with the woman he calls his wife. After all, the U.S. Presidential Inauguration only takes place once every four years. Some might point out that he may have been distracted. Trump did himself no favors to dispel the talk that he's an out-and-out misogynist when he left his wife behind. President Obama, took a moment to wait and welcome her to join in the festivities. Trump's faux pas has been discussed by many as a harbinger of worse to come.
But this article is not about the newly elected president. It's far more important than that. It's about an organization that has transformed millions of lives for more than 100 years.
The Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc. (PPFA), is a nonprofit organization that provides reproductive health services both in the United States and worldwide partnering with organizations in 12 countries. Stateside, PPFA, consists of 159 medical and non-medical affiliates, which operate over 650 health clinics. The organization directly provides a variety of reproductive health services and sexual education, contributes to research in reproductive technology, and performs advocacy work aimed at protecting and expanding reproductive rights.
A relevant history lesson not taught in school...
Planned Parenthood was founded by Margaret Sanger, on October 16, 1916, in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, New York, where she opened the first birth control clinic in the U.S. Sanger founded the American Birth Control League, in 1921. Sanger, her sister, Ethel Byrne, and Fania Mindell were arrested and jailed, accused of distributing obscene materials at the clinic. Sanger preferred going to jail, turning down the option to simply pay fines instead, realizing that the cause would garner national attention, which it did. Though convicted on misdemeanor charges, Sanger's strategy paid off: the convicting judge modified the law to permit physician-prescribed birth control, a watershed moment that led to major changes in the laws governing birth control and sexual education in the U.S.
It became Planned Parenthood in 1942, because people had found the previous name offensive and against families.
By 1960, the Federation had provided family planning counseling in hundreds of communities across the country. Interestingly enough, Sanger-like many other advocates of birth control-publicly condemned abortion, arguing that it would not be needed if every woman had the education and access to birth control. Following Sanger, Alan Frank Guttmacher became president of Planned Parenthood, serving from 1962 until 1974. During his tenure the FDA approved the sale of the original birth control pill, giving rise to new attitudes towards women's reproductive freedom. PPFA also lobbied the federal government to support reproductive health, culminating with President Nixon's signing of Title X to provide governmental subsidies for low-income women to access family-planning services.
Then in 1978 Faye Wattleton became the first African-American president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America.
During Wattleton's term PPFA grew to become the seventh largest charity in the country, providing services to four million clients each year through its 170 affiliates, across 50 states. Then from 1996 until 2006, Gloria Feldt became president and activated the Planned Parenthood Action Fund (PPAF), the organization's political action committee, launching what was the most far reaching electoral advocacy, voter education, and grassroots organizing to promote the PPFA mission. Current president, Cecile Richards, daughter of former Texas governor, Ann Richards, and formerly deputy chief of staff to the U.S. Representative Nancy Pelosi, started her term on February, 2006. Richards was voted one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People in the World, in 2012.
Our elected officials...
A year ago the 114th Congress kicked off 2016, much like it had in 2015, by voting yet again to strip federal funds from Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest family-planning provider, because its health services include abortion. There's already a federal law preventing taxpayer dollars from being used toward abortions (patients have to pay for abortions out-of-pocket). But Republicans have long despised the family-planning provider for ideological reasons, and now they control the House, Senate and the White House.
Courtesy of Longroom.
Scarlett Johannson revealed she visited planned parenthood as a teen during her speech at the Women's March.
More than 40 years after Roe vs Wade, politicians are still trying to legislate what women can and can't do with their bodies. North Dakota, recently passed a law that outlaws a woman's right to choose, starting as early as six weeks, even if a woman is raped. Forty-two states have introduced laws that would ban or severely limit access to a woman's right to choose--laws that would make it harder to get contraceptive care, laws that would sever access to cancer screenings and terminate educational programs that would help prevent teen pregnancies.
Help spread the word...
Millions are standing with Planned Parenthood with #PlannedParenthood@PPAct and #IStandwithPP because there's simply too much at stake to allow government to interfere with our rights for reproductive health. Today, approximately one in five women in the U.S., visit Planned Parenthood, and nearly 75 percent of those women are low income. “No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body," was the motto coined by Margaret Sanger over 100 years ago.
It still rings true today, but now more than ever, our help is needed. Grassroots protests and fundraisers can have a significant impact toward protecting one of the most relevant organizations, not just in the United States but also throughout the world. It is easy to forget that sometimes the smallest deeds ignite the greatest outpouring of support and action.
Tuffet restaurant, in Brooklyn, raised over $3,500 for Planned Parenthood, through a raffle, silent auction and drink sales. The owner, said that she didn't think that she would be the best person to address questions on the current political climate that threatens the access to healthcare for millions of women across the country. She's wrong. Her actions, like the actions of countless other selfless individuals, who do far more for the betterment of society than so-called elected officials, are a powerful reminder that deeds address needs far more often than words.
Deeds like proposing legislation favored by many elected officials to not only take away the legal right to choose, but also take away life-saving access to cancer screenings, health education, annual well-women exams, HPV vaccine, pap tests (cervical cancer screenings), STD testing and treatment, pregnancy testing, HIV testing, urinary tract infection testing, breast exams, vasectomies, birth control, pregnancy options education, is not only heartless. It's also a not-so-subtle way to discriminate and harm millions of people (not just women) nation-wide. The vast majority of people would certainly agree that everyone deserves access to affordable, good healthcare regardless of income levels and sex. We are better than this.
The vast majority of people would certainly agree that everyone deserves access to affordable, good healthcare regardless of income levels and sex. We are better than this.
Did You Know...?
- Today more than 55 million women have no co-pay birth control thanks to the Affordable Care Act, saving women an estimated $1.4 billion in its first year alone
- In 2014-2015, thanks to Planned Parenthood, we saw a 40 year low for teen pregnancies
- Planned Parenthood's website garners 60 million annual visits
- The FDA approved Liletta, (Feb 2015) an IUD device that is safe and effective for up to three years and is priced at $50 at qualifying public health clinics
- In June 2015, The Lancet published a study conducted by Planned Parenthood affiliates and researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, about how training healthcare providers in contraceptive counseling and insertion of the most effective forms of reversible contraception-IUDs & implants-could affect patients contraceptive decisions and prevent unintended pregnancies
- Since Roe vs Wade, 11 murders, dozens of attempted murders and hundreds of death threats have plagued Planned Parenthood facilities in the U.S.
- In 2015, Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon, advocated for a landmark law making Oregon the first state in the nation to require health insurance companies to give a year's supply of the pill, patch, or ring up front
Marriage can be a tightrope act: when everything is in balance, it is bliss and you feel safe, but once things get shaky, you are unsure about next steps. Add outside forces into the equation like kids, work, finances or a personal crisis and now there's a strong chance that you'll need extra support to keep you from falling.
My husband and I are no strangers to misunderstandings, which are expected in any relationship, but after 7 years of marriage, we were really being tested on how strong our bond was and it had nothing to do with the "7-year itch"--it was when I was diagnosed with PTSD. As a survivor of child sexual abuse who is a perfectionist, I felt guilty about not being the "perfect partner" in our relationship; frustrated that I might be triggered while being intimate; and worried about being seen as broken or weak because of panic attacks. My defense mechanism is to not need anyone, yet my biggest fear is often abandonment.
I am not a trained therapist or relationship expert, but since 2016, I have learned a lot about managing survivorship and PTSD triggers while being in a heterosexual marriage, so I am now sharing some of my practical relationship advice to the partners of survivors to support my fellow female survivors who may be struggling to have a stronger voice in their relationship. Partners of survivors have needs too during this process, but before those needs can be met, they need to understand how to support their survivor partner, and it isn't always an easy path to navigate.
To my fellow survivor sisters in romantic relationships, I write these tips from the perspective of giving advice to your partner, so schedule some quality time to talk with your boo and read these tips together.
I challenge you both to discuss if my advice resonates with you or not! Ultimately, it will help both of you develop an open line of communication about needs, boundaries, triggers and loving one another long-term.
1. To Be or Not to Be Sexy: Your survivor partner probably wants to feel sexy, but is ambivalent about sex. She was a sexual object to someone else and that can wreak havoc on her self-esteem and intimate relationships. She may want you to find her sexy and yet not want to actually be intimate with you. Talk to her about her needs in the bedroom, what will make her feel safe, what will make her feel sexy but not objectified, and remind her that you are attracted to her for a multitude or reasons--not just because of her physical appearance.
2. Safe Words = Safer Sex: Believe it or not, your partner's mind is probably wondering while you are intimate (yep, she isn't just thinking about how amazing you are, ha!). Negative thoughts can flash through her mind depending on her body position, things you say, how she feels, etc. Have a word that you agree on that she can say if she needs a break. It could be as simple as "pause," but it needs to be respected and not questioned so that she knows when it is used, you won't assume that you can sweet talk her into continuing. This doesn't have to be a bedroom only rule. Daytime physical touch or actions could warrant the safe word, as well.
3. Let Her Reconnect: Both partners need attention in a relationship, but sometimes a survivor is distracted. Maybe she was triggered that day, feels sad or her defense mechanisms are up because you did something to upset her and you didn't even know it (and she doesn't know how to explain what happened). If she is distant, ask her if she needs some time alone. Maybe she does, maybe she doesn't, but acknowledging that you can sense some internal conflict will go a long way. Sometimes giving her the space to reconnect with herself before expecting her to be able to focus on you/your needs is just what she needs to be reminded that she is safe and loved in this relationship.
4. Take the 5 Love Languages(r) Test: If you haven't read this book yet or taken the test, please at the very least take the free quiz to learn your individual love language. My top love language was Touch and Words of Affirmation before remembering my abuse and thereafter it became Acts of Service and Words of Affirmation. Knowing how your survivor partner prefers to be shown love goes a long way and it will in turn help your needs be met, as they might be different.
5. Be Patient: I know it might be frustrating at times and you can't possibly totally understand what your survivor partner is going through, but patience goes a long way. If your survivor partner is going through the early stages of PTSD, she feels like a lot of her emotional well-being is out of her control. Panic attacks are scary and there are triggers everywhere in society. For example, studies have shown that sexual references are made anywhere from 8 to 10 times during one hour of prime time television (source: Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media). My husband is now on high alert when we watch TV and film. He quickly paused a Game of Thrones episode when we started season 2 because he realized a potentially violent sexual scene was coming up, and ultimately we turned it off and never watched the series again. He didn't make a big deal about it and I was relieved.
6. Courage to Heal, Together: The Courage to Heal book has been around for many years and it supported me well during the onset of my first flashbacks of my abuse. At the back of the book is a partners section for couples to read together. I highly recommend it so that you can try to understand from a psychological, physical and emotional stand point what your survivor partner is grappling with and how the two of you can support one another on the path of healing and enjoying life together.