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Vasquez: Planned Parenthood essential for millions of women

Planned Parenthood supporters hold up signs following a

Planned Parenthood supporters hold up signs following a press conference by U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) outside at a Planned Parenthood Clinic. (Feb. 3, 2012) Photo Credit: Getty Images

I admit it. And I'm not ashamed about it. I've used the services of Planned Parenthood. I was in college, I needed birth control, and I had very little money. Planned Parenthood was there for me.

Even after I got a job with health-care benefits I still chose to go to Planned Parenthood because I believe in its mission. I know it serves communities of color and people who do not have health insurance. That makes a big difference to me - then and now.

I'm not alone. According to Planned Parenthood, one in five women will use its services at least once in their lifetime. Millions of women go to Planned Parenthood for cancer screenings. And yes, some go there for abortions, which is their right and often a health-care decision.

It is almost unfathomable to me that GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and running mate Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., have pledged to defund Planned Parenthood and have taken such a backward position on abortion.

While the majority of the country believes abortion should remain legal, the Republican leadership generally does not, except in the most extreme instances. Ryan believes in an exception only for the life of the mother, not for her health. He opposes abortion in cases of rape or incest, and he recently said, shockingly, that rape is another method of conception. Romney, for his part, believes in exceptions for rape and incest.

This Republican ticket would make it almost impossible for women to access essential family planning services in rural or in impoverished communities, where the majority are low income and many are people of color.

Men who think they know what's best for a woman who faces an unplanned pregnancy are fooling themselves. They have no ovaries, no uterus, and can't even begin to comprehend the hardships such a pregnancy can cause.

The decision to terminate or go on with a pregnancy should always rest with the woman, her doctor and her trusted circle of support. It's a deeply personal decision. Unfortunately the Republican leadership does not agree.

These people who want to lead our country would take women back to the dark ages before Roe v. Wade made abortion legal. I, and millions of women like me, will not allow them to turn back the clock on our reproductive rights.

Angela C. Trudell Vasquez is a writer for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary on domestic and international issues; it is affiliated with The Progressive magazine.