Let’s face it, I’m an old guy, so I have had little reason to become familiar with the actual services of Planned Parenthood. As a political observer, however, I do know that Planned Parenthood has long served as a bogeyman for anti-abortion zealots in the U.S., many of whom are white Christian evangelicals. Indeed, Trump’s promise to appoint “conservative” (read anti-abortion) justices to the Supreme Court helped him get the white Christian evangelical vote and, as a result, “win” the election (Note: Trump won the electoral college vote, not the popular vote, a fact too often neglected by GOP members of Congress who state that Trump was “elected by the people.”)

Before providing a brief overview of what Planned Parenthood of Northern New England does, two facts bear mention: (1) 61% of Americans believe that abortion should be legal in all or most cases; and (2) A vast majority (70%) of Maine voters support Planned Parenthood.

Now some figures: In 2018, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England (which encompasses Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont) provided reproductive and sexual health care for over 45,126 patients who made a total of 67,651 visits, including 18,172 by Maine patients. Sixty-four percent of these patients had low incomes, with low income defined as less than twice the Federal Poverty Level or $24,280 for a household. Incidentally, 13% of the patients identified as male.

Primary reasons for care were, in order: family planning, counseling and contraception (33.8%); symptom visit (31.1%); cancer screening prevention and treatment (11.1%); abortion care (5.5%); other counseling, hormone therapy and other lab testing (4.7%) and pregnancy testing (3%).

Kai Williams, Vice President of Health Center Operations for PPNNE, says, “We provide information and give women choices about their lives and their health care.” Williams notes that patients can get same-day (or next day) access and feel safe while receiving compassionate, non-judgmental, affordable, professional care.”

PPNNE gets it funding from grants, donations and private insurance. Until recently, the organization also received some Title X funding. The organization pulled out of Title X because of the Trump-Pence Gag Rule. Put simply, the “Gag Rule” makes it illegal for health care providers to tell their patients how and where they can access abortion safely and legally.

The Gag Rule represents only one step the Trump Administration has taken on the anti-abortion front over the last three years. As Nancy Northrup, CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights, notes, “Since taking office, the Trump administration has taken every opportunity to attack women’s reproductive health and rights in the U.S. and around the world.”

At the United Nations in September 2019, the Trump administration professed that there was “no international right to an abortion.” U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asked foreign leaders to “join the United States in ensuring that every sovereign state has the ability to determine the best way to protect the unborn and defend the family as the foundational unit of society vital to children thriving and leading healthy lives.”

The administration’s plea to have other nations join them in declaring that there was “no international right to an abortion” met with strong resistance.

Shannon Kowalski, director of advocacy and policy at the International Women’s Health Coalition, minced no words saying, “The United States is isolated. Their position is extreme. They read their statement in conjunction with countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain — which are hardly champions of women’s rights. And if they’re the countries that the U.S. is aligning themselves with, then I think we’re right to dismiss that they have any moral stake in this battle.”

Meanwhile, GOP-controlled legislators in red states around the country have taken increasingly draconian measures to make it hard or impossible for women to receive legal abortions. Happily, the courts have pushed back on most of these measures.

And then there’s the little matter of the rightward-leaning Supreme Court. Remember the contentious battle over the Brett Kavanaugh nomination? Our own malleable (and anxious-to-please-Mitch McConnell) Sen. Susan Collins helped ensure Kavanaugh’s nomination after her endorsement, despite an avalanche of protests from her constituents. That grave misstep, along with her support of Trump’s tax cuts for the rich, may doom her in the 2020 election. I sure hope so.

Meanwhile, 38 GOP Senators (the scorecard included 35 men and just three women, mind you) recently signed a brief asking the Supreme Court to revisit Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court’s landmark 1973 decision, which protects the right for women to secure an abortion.

Time out: Let’s label this entire Trump campaign for what it is: A concerted effort led almost entirely by men to control women’s choices over their own bodies. Trump-supporting anti-abortion voters have no problem standing behind a leader with a history of abusing women. (One more woman just came out to accuse Trump of sexual harassment, a former Fox News reporter, no less.) These “good Christians” don’t mind that Trump’s policies have resulted in separating children from their parents at the border. They’re fine with Trump’s onslaught of lies and bullying, as long as they can get Roe v Wade overturned. They’re happy with the tax-cuts-for-the-rich move, because, some claim, God wanted Trump to be president. I will never understand, let alone condone, such thinking. I will, however, do everything in my power to make Trump a one-term president for the sake of a woman’s right to make decisions affecting her own body — and for the sake of America.

David Treadwell, a Brunswick writer, welcomes commentary and suggestions for future “Just a Little Old” columns. [email protected]

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