Tayari Jones
Tayari Jones is the author of the novels Leaving Atlanta and Silver Sparrow. She is an associate professor of English at Rutgers-Newark University.

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REASON 66: Barack Obama supports Planned Parenthood while Mitt Romney would destroy it.

When I met Carl Djerassi—the inventor of the birth control pill—at a dinner in his honor, I had to wait in line to shake his hand. Women of various ages, religions, and ethnicities thanked him for his contribution to their quality of life. When it was my turn, I said, “Sir, I want to thank you for saving me the indignity of having to marry my first boyfriend.” I was half-joking and half-not.

I remember the young me, a college student, going to Planned Parenthood and receiving the pink dial pack of birth control pills. I was ready to have an adult relationship and I wanted to be smart. I chose Planned Parenthood for three reasons: A) Planned Parenthood operated on a sliding pay scale so I could afford the pills. B) Planned Parenthood was a safe, non-judgmental space. C) Planned Parenthood was accessible via public transportation. If any of those three things were not so, I would have been less likely to have received the counseling and pharmaceuticals necessary to not become pregnant in college, interrupting my education and changing the course of my life.

This is real talk about Planned Parenthood and contraception. The Republican-led conversation about women’s reproductive choices has become so repressive everyone has to claim that this discussion has nothing to do with sexuality, that we want the pill for acne or to regulate our periods. But Planned Parenthood’s real benefit is in its name: planned parenthood. This is an organization that makes it possible for women to decide when and if they choose to be mothers. It is not an exaggeration to say that little pink packet of pills has allowed me to have the life I have today.

Mitt Romney says, “Planned Parenthood, we’re going to get rid of that.”

It's true that Planned Parenthood is just one provider of women’s health care, but for many women—especially women who are young and/or poor—Planned Parenthood is the one place where they can receive the care they require to take control of their lives. If Mitt Romney is elected president, Planned Parenthood will be destroyed. That by itself is plenty, but don’t think that it will stop there. Poor women, urban women, and young women are the canaries of our country’s coal mines. Family planning services will be taken away from them first, but with “personhood" bills, many forms of birth control will become illegal, shackling us all—even those of us with solid health insurance and smart, feminist doctors. As James Baldwin famously said, “For, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night."

Tayari Jones
 Newark, New Jersey

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