In the discussion about funding Planned Parenthood, the impact that the organization has on actual human lives is often lost. Which is exactly why Joss Whedon's Planned Parenthood video should be required viewing for anyone who thinks they already know what the clinics do. Because the health care services they provide have a huge effect on women's lives — and their families.
The short video is called "Unlocked" and depicts the stories of three very different women. In one vignette, a woman collapses and then dies, surrounded by her family, because of untreated breast cancer. In another, a very pregnant high school student turns down a full scholarship to college. The third vignette shows a young high school couple affected by STDs.
This all happened, the video shows, because when they arrived at the clinic, it was closed. But then everything rewinds and the colors get brighter. This time, the woman's breast cancer is detected and treated early by a Planned Parenthood medical professional. The high schooler has access to birth control. Teens learn about STDs from their peers and protect themselves, remaining healthy.
The video closes with a title card asking the question, "what world do you want?"
It's hard to imagine that there's anyone out there who wouldn't want all of those things. Giving women a choice in planning their families and future? Making sure people are educated when it comes to sex and STDs? Detecting breast or cervical cancer in time to save a life? It seems like a given.
Unfortunately, the personal moral beliefs of some Americans often get in the way of providing health care to women everywhere — especially low income women. There's a real crusade, led by conservative Republicans and Democrats, to get rid of Planned Parenthood altogether. Under the American Health Care Act that passed in the House of Representatives earlier this month, the cuts to Medicaid funding and reimbursements would effectively "defund" Planned Parenthood. In other states, TRAP laws threaten the clinics' operations, too. It all puts women at risk.
Instead of seeing the public health benefits of preventing and treating STDs or offering low cost contraception and other preventative care to women, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, for example, has called Planned Parenthood a "criminal enterprise" after a video surfaced showing Planned Parenthood employees "selling human body parts" (not true). Of all the things Planned Parenthood does, that's not one of them.
If only more legislators and their constituents knew the real story behind Planned Parenthood and all of the good it does for women. It's going to take a lot more videos like Whedon's to drive the point across.