Originally published Feb. 25, 2011.
[Editor's Note: As the country's debate on abortion gets more and more intense, I thought it was appropriate to bring back this winner from last year's Sex Week.]
My ovaries have been very busy making protest signs this week. They’ve enlisted the help of my heart and my mind as conservative members of Congress have begun a very deliberate war on women’s rights. My vagina won’t let me hear the end of it, constantly running clips from The Daily Show and Democracy Now! on the subject.
The gauntlet was really thrown down this week when the House voted to defund Planned Parenthood. Yep. The GOP wants to strip away access to free contraceptives and preventative womens’ health care (cancer screenings, HIV tests, you know, trivial stuff.)
It seems counter-intuitive to me. It seems to me when you take away access to family planning, especially for young and/or low-income women, you’re going to have a significant rise in unplanned pregnancies, and with no alternatives, an increase in abortion rates.
Women are still going to choose to not have a baby (whether it be for financial disparity, abuse, rape, or her own life at stake), but if the means to do so are illegal, it will be a reversion to dark alleys and unclean (and unsafe) practices. Cuts to Planned Parenthood won’t decrease the need for abortions, but will take away safe clinics that perform them.
But here’s the kicker: Only ten percent of all visits to Planned Parenthood were for abortion services last year. So, this defunding of Planned Parenthood is not about abortion. It’s about power and inflicting a vendetta against contraception as a whole – because it’s related to that whole naughty sex act. The GOP must really hate women.
A woman who cannot afford birth control should not have to give up her right to have sex. Even with a condom (unaffordable without services like Planned Parenthood), there’s still a risk of pregnancy. (Planned Parenthood’s educational services about contraception may also go away, which would be detrimental to girls being taught solely “Abstinence Only” at school)
Straight up, cutting Title X funding (the family planning fund), which provides $317 million to family planning services that includes Planned Parenthood, would be a huge oppression on millions of women.
There are some heroes for the cause: Rep. Gwen Moore of Wisconsin laid it all out, according to Jezebel, by “mocking the prospect of a bunch of old white guys standing around talking about black women’s fertility and alleged genocide.” Rep. Paul Brown accused clinics of targeting neighborhoods “where people of color live” and that “more black babies are killed” by Planned Parenthood.
Moore said, essentially, what the fuck do you know?! “I know all about black babies. I’ve had three of them…the first one at the ripe old age of 18.” Conservative policies show “utter contempt for poor women and poor children.”
The anti-abortion LifeNews chastised Moore for “implying that it is better to have an abortion than make a child be forced to live ‘eating Ramen noodles’ and ‘mayonnaise sandwiches.’” But that’s what happens when you take away all funding.
California’s Rep. Jackie Speier discussed her own abortion, when she had complications during pregnancy. Another big fuck you to the GOP: “For you to stand on this floor and to suggest…that somehow this is a procedure that is either welcomed or done cavalierly or done without any thought is preposterous.” Oh, and Republicans are “wasting the time of Americans, who are primarily concerned with jobs and not with what is, last time we all checked, a legal procedure.”
The ever-insane Michele Bachmann claims, falsely, that Planned Parenthood uses government money to “build fancy abortion centers”.
Also in trouble are rape victims, as well as women who planned their pregnancy, but experienced complications during childbirth. It’s not a good time to be an abortion doctor either. Here’s what the Right would like to pass (Note: These are not law, yet): Rape cannot be called rape if there is no proof of force. A victim of sexual assault cannot be called a victim, but an accuser, in legal language. If you’re giving birth and your life is in danger, you would have to die rather than have an abortion. If you perform an abortion, your death would be a justifiable homicide.
The thing is, Pro-Choice does not mean Pro-Abortion. It just means supporting the freedom to decide what is best for your own body. Why try to ban what you don’t approve of? What one person does with their body doesn’t affect another. Don’t have an abortion if you don’t want to. But, don’t take away that right for others. That’s not democracy.
Photo by Steve Rhodes