Unlearning Planned Parenthood.

I watched Hollywood starlet Scarlett Johansson speak at the Women’s March on Washington. At 30 years old, I was shocked by my lack of information on what Planned Parenthood actually does.

Within this last election, I delved deeper into the candidates’ history, policies (or lack thereof), and core beliefs. I then realized I was merely scratching the surface as a formerly conservatively-raised and self professed conservative youth.

Yet today threw me off and was a sobering reminder that the first and often most foundational information in life comes from our communities and cultural climates as children. Johansson’s speech was like  a cold glass of water in my face. It reminded me that although I am evolving and educating myself, I grew up in a community where many liberal people and organizations were presented and discussed one dimensionally and myopically.

I am 30 years old and the first I read about Planned Parenthood as something other than a baby-killing, angry-woman run, filthy,sac-religious organization was in October 2016. I read an article detailing the shut down of Planned Parenthood by Mike Pence in Indiana and the local community’s consequent outbreak of diseases due to no longer having access to STD testing for its poorer residents. This was not a Christian thing. This was a calculated, malicious, and cruel thing.

As a child and teenager, organizations like Planned Parenthood were low-key villianized by the conservative Christian church. So were gays and single parents and weird people who cussed and didn’t seem filled by the love of Christ 24-7, but I digress. I’m not upset that I was raised around strong beliefs. I’m mad because no one seemed to acknowledge there was a debate going on. That, I feel, is dangerously problematic and stunts our children’s growth as critical thinkers.

The church growing up didn’t present all facts and also relied heavily on manipulating the emotions of the vulnerable; children. Later into my young adulthood, there were choices I made I feel I was smarter than making. But condoms or safe sex weren’t stressed as heavily as abstinence.

When I was 14, there was a boy in the church who made a “scientific” presentation on why gays were more likely to get cancer and be punished by God for their lifestyle. I always thought maybe he was secretly gay and trying to rid himself of it the only way he had been raised to.

As a person now, I have my views. I have my beliefs and they are liberal, and in stark contrast to the conservative Christian narrative I prescribed to as a young person, provocative at very least. Yet my values remain for justice, for respect of oneself and one another, for love for our neighbor. I am a mom now, and I have to remind myself that while it is perfectly acceptable to instill values in my child, it is not up to me to mold his beliefs. That is my son’s God-given gift and I would be doing him a disservice if I failed to provide him the debate, the full picture, the resources to gain information to both sides of the coin on issues in life.

As a parent, this is difficult. Every parent has an instinct to protect their child. How this plays out is the real question, perhaps.

On a macro-level, this Planned Parenthood speech by Miss Johansson illustrates one example of why so many of us humans are pissed about Donald Trump. It’s not because women and minority groups don’t like what Trump said; it is what he won’t say, what he didn’t say, that is enraging. One must present the information fully and one must not dismiss facts or omit truths because it casts one in a less than flattering light. Trump has pissed off women like Miss Johansson, and myself, because as human beings, we reject being told half-truths regarding our bodies and what choices we have or don’t have to take care of our bodies.

On a micro-level, Miss Johansson’s words provoked me to reflect how I see my relationship and responsibility with my son. I am a part of his foundation and make up much of his community right now. When he is old enough, will I be brave enough to give him the information of both sides without personal prejudice?

So to my son; I’m on this journey. I love you. I will fail at times, but I will keep trying.