It’s about Healthcare, Silly!

Dr. Margaret Sanger

Dr. Margaret Sanger


In this morning’s local paper, I was reading the weekly article about events that happened in town decades ago.  Some are very funny – Mr. Washburn lost his horse on Tuesday, but she wandered home sometime during the night and was found eating the goodies from his neighbor’s garden.  Today’s was from 1937.

“Dr. Charlotte Bacchus Jordan . . . at the local Municipal Building told a group of 43 mothers, many of them on relief and mothers of large families, that a scientific control of the birth rate would do much to alleviate the problems of increasing feeble-mindedness, maternal death rates – and even the threat of war that sometimes, she said, is a result of overpopulation requiring expansion of territory”

We have just celebrated International Women’s Day yesterday.  No, you cannot have a martini if you missed it.  Last night I was at a Planned Parenthood event.  Now, I can hear you, “LaDiva, DON’T get into the abortion debate.”  Quiet, Darling, I’m not.  I’m a dietitian.

International Women Day

I deal in healthcare.

One in five women in the US has either been to a Planned Parenthood clinic or has a good friend that has.  I went to a local clinic when I was in high school because I knew I would soon be sexually active.  I had no idea how to protect myself.  I was from a BIG Irish, Catholic family and had seen what unplanned pregnancies did to girls, boys and their families.  That was not going to be me.

When I was in college I went to Planned Parenthood for annual gyn healthcare exams.  They were the cheapest place in town.  I went to Planned Parenthood for healthcare exams when I moved to New York City because I knew they would be clean, professional and cheap.  I didn’t know New York, but I did know Planned Parenthood.  Ninety-seven percent of what they do is healthcare services.  And they do it for women who don’t have insurance or the funds to pay other clinics.

Now there is a push by legislators who want to jump on a convenient “Get-me-noticed” bandwagon and have doctors who work at Planned Parenthood and perform these outpatient services to have admitting privileges to local hospitals.  Seems reasonable at first glance, but here a fact that those of you who are not in the medical world don’t know –  Hospitals are in the business to make money.

Doctors who work at the local hospital make the hospital money.  Doctors who only do a procedure once in a few years, do not.  Why give privileges for someone who doesn’t make us money?  Here’s another fact, it is up to the hospital to decide who gets privileges and who doesn’t.  Some teaching  hospitals only allow privileges to MDs who are also on their faculty, some hospitals do not separate church and state and will not allow an MD who performs abortions for any reason to have privileges.  

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has stated that this barrier to women’s healthcare does nothing because the procedures done at Planned Parenthood Clinics rarely have complications and are taken care of at the clinic when they arise.  Also, Planned Parenthood Clinics need to have contracts about emergency care with local hospitals.  So, any emergency is already taken care of.  What problem are these legislators trying to solve?  Ensuring their voting base turns out on election day, not whether I can get treated for genital warts.

As a medical professional, all I see is that young people will not get educated about how to prevent unplanned pregnancies and steer clear of sexually transmitted diseases.   More economically stressed women will not get the healthcare they need.  More new moms won’t make sure to have a safe pregnancy.  The emergency room will, again, become their primary care physician.

My mother, The Queen Mother, went to Mass twice a week, confession once a month and observed every papal rule.  She gave birth to seven children.  When I was in college the abortion topic came up.  Almost every girlfriend I had either had an abortion or was in fear of an unplanned pregnancy.  My mother shook her head and I awaited her sharp tongue on how women could be so foolish.  Here’s what she said:

“I am lucky.  I have always had your father’s support.  I never had to worry that he would provide, even when he was on strike.

I can’t imagine what it would be like to be a young woman with no one or have children she could not afford to feed.  So, I know that I am supposed to have one point of view, but I cannot make that decision for someone else.  I would not want someone to make a decision for me.”