Diversity in Congress and the Planned Parenthood Debate

Diversity in Congress and the Planned Parenthood Debate

When the 114th Congress was elected headlines everywhere hailed it as “the most diverse congress in history!” While it may be the most diverse, do not be fooled into thinking the congress is actually diverse. 17% of the entire congress is not white. Only 20% of the Congress is female. The Senate only has two African Americans.  Lastly, 92% of the congress is Christian. So, while people are correct in calling the newest congress the most diverse, it is still overwhelmingly composed of white, Christian, men. Our nation’s diversity continues to grow but our government is still not reflective of that.

     This matters because of the fact that people tend to vote for policies that help themselves. This means that women will most likely vote for legislation that helps them achieve pay equality, reproductive freedom, and other guaranteed rights. Both women and African Americans understand what their predecessors went through to achieve the right to vote so they are more likely to vote for legislation that continues to secure that right for others. Those who are not Christian are more likely to spot when policies are centered on Christian morals, such as gay marriage or abortion, and help to ensure a separation of church and state and further progress nationwide equality. While none of these are guarantees, those who have lived through oppression are more likely to reject oppressive legislation ensuring equal representation of all America’s people. White males have not experienced oppression that women, African American, or Hispanics in the United States have. Are they able to still stand up for the rights and equalities of others? Of course. Are they able to notice or stand up for those rights as well as a member of that group? Not likely. As I stated before, people will widely support legislation that aids their own progressions, whether it be gender, race, or religion. A prime consequence of our lack of diversity in government is represented by the debate over Planned Parenthood funding.

     The majority of women are supporting Planned Parenthood funding because it directly affects them or other women they know. While Planned Parenthood is open to both men and women it’s primary patients are women, specifically low-income women or young women. The majority of the Christian faith, regardless if they use Planned Parenthood’s services, believes the organization is immoral because 3% of their practices are abortions and the bible says life begins at conception. So, when you have a high majority of congress being older, wealthy, Christian males you are going to see an organization involving abortion serving young, low income, women such as Planned Parenthood come under scrutiny. Other examples are certainly prevalent in our nation, such as voter ID laws. While these laws are not nationwide, certain states implementing stricter voter ID laws have affected the voting ability of poor African American people, the opposite of the majority in congress.

     As  evident from the Planned Parenthood congressional hearing, the majority of Planned Parenthood’s criticizers are men. Through their criticisms, such as asking why they need government subsidies, they proved just how clueless they are on women’s issues. To women under eighteen, who may be struggling with talking about sexual activities with their parents but still concerned about their sexual health, Planned Parenthood services are completely free. Their STD testing is free, birth control is free, STD medications are free, condoms are free, and other services are available as well. By offering so many women in need free services, they need federal subsidies to continue to offer their essential and beneficial services. To pro-life criticizers, even though government money does not even go to abortions in the first place, their free services make large impacts on preventing unwanted pregnancy and thus, preventing abortions.

       This is not the only time men have demonstrated that they are perhaps not the best people to deciding what rights women should have and what organizations should be readily available to them. Senator Claire McCaskill, the first woman senator, talks at length about the cluelessness men have when it comes to Planned Parenthood in her discussion with the Commonwealth Club. Please, do not mistake this for saying that men are clueless about the women’s body. This is, of course, not true. But, are they the best people to be making laws regarding the women’s body and the options available to all women? No, I do not believe so, I believe a mixture of both men and women, equally, would serve this duty better. The best governance will derive from more diversity. Our government should look like the nation it represents. It is how policy will represent the entire nation equally.  Our congress is making steps towards that, but not by any means is it close.