So…why does lezzie me care about abortion? Other than all the news stories about it lately, what with the Republican House of Representatives attempting to pull all funding for Planned Parenthood, what with Phil Kline being on trial for unethical behavior as the Kansas Attorney General for interrogating doctors providing abortion and un-redacting redacted medical records by matching them with local hotel records (source: Rachel Maddow Show, February 23rd. Yes, I’m such a stereotypical queer.) Other than that…why should I care? I will most likely never have an unplanned pregnancy because I don’t sleep with men. This is, of course, assuming I never am forced to sleep with a dude against my will (rape, my possums, happens and can happen to anyone.)
First, I’d like to re-publish an article that came out of Jersey (shocking!) My friend Liz tells it like it is and no one tells it better–the newspapers seem to agree (as far as I know, this ran in the Yale Daily News with some edits.)
On Friday the US House of representatives voted to strip Planned Parenthood of all federal funding. Why? Every year Planned Parenthood provides: 1 million cancer screenings, 830,000 breast exams, 4 million tests and treatments for STDs including HIV/AIDS, educational programs to 1.2 million young people, and contraception to 2.5 million people. Every year Planned Parenthood prevents 612,000 unintended pregnancies. For every dollar spent on family planning assistance, the government makes back 4 dollars in savings from Medicaid. Why then, would anyone want to cut this vital program? Does congress really care so much about abortions (which are NOT included in Title X funding and only represent 3% of Planned Parenthood’s services, anyway) that is it willing to sacrifice the health of millions of Americans?
Cutting funding for Planned Parenthood has nothing to do with abortion. Hell, pretty much any legislation limiting abortion or family planning or sex education has nothing to do with abortion and everything to do with controlling women. A 2007 World Health Organization study found that the rate of abortion in countries where the procedure was illegal is almost identical to the abortion rate in countries where it is legal. Making abortion illegal does not stop it from occurring- it just drives it underground and makes it more dangerous. It is estimated that without family planning assistance the U.S. abortion rate would be two-thirds higher than it is today. Planned Parenthood saves lives and prevents abortions.
While there are many respectable people who honestly do not feel abortion is moral, and support policies known to actually have an effect on abortion rates (such as comprehensive sex ed and birth control) the anti-choicers in congress are not these people. They may hide behind rhetoric about the “sanctity of life” but do absolutely nothing to protect it. These are the men (and few women) who vote for unnecessary wars that lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, who vote to prevent affordable health care, who favor the death penalty, who feel that your right to own a gun is more important than your right to own your own body. They cut funding for programs that feed poor children, while vetoing tax increases to the super rich. They don’t give a shit about the “sanctity of life.”
The men in congress would love to see things go back to the days before Roe v. Wade. They do not care that criminalizing abortion does not stop the procedure from being preformed. They do not care that women frequently died when trying to obtain illegal abortions. They want us to have to go search for shady back ally abortions. They want to punish us for being such dirty sluts to have sex in the first place. They are appalled that women take control of their own lives, own bodies and sexuality. They are angry that they are no longer the sole masters of the universe and will do anything they can to gain back that power.
I can’t sleep thinking about this. It makes me sick to my stomach. We need to fight back. We need to scream and yell at the top of our lungs that we will not stand for this kind of attack. The women of this country will not go back. We have gotten our taste of freedom, and will not be going back to the kitchens, to forced pregnancy, and certainly not to back alleys.
I am not going to keep quiet on this. I will continue to bother you all until you’re all so sick of it you have to take your own action. For those of you who think this is a non-issue because the amendment still has to go to the Senate and the President- think again. Do not trust that this will end with one House vote. This is all-out war on American Women. This is just one of many assaults on women’s health and rights currently being introduced at both the federal and state level. Do not assume that the Senate and President will always vote in our favor. We need to take this into our own hands.
If you haven’t already, please sign the open letter to congress being distributed by Planned Parenthood, share your Planned Parenthood stories, and consider making a donation (links at the bottom). There is also a large New York City rally being planned for February 26th, and many others across the country. So what else can we do? I’m open to suggestions. Let’s discuss.
After writing this, Liz took a couple suggestions that showed up on her facebook…and started John Boehner’s Women’s Liberation Front (which can be found at ladyboehners.tumblr.com) encouraging people to donate to Planned Parenthood in Speaker of the House John Boehner’s name. She also, as stated, encourages petition signing.
So why do we care? I’d like to highlight this once more, with feeling:
They want us to have to go search for shady back ally abortions. They want to punish us for being such dirty sluts to have sex in the first place. They are appalled that women take control of their own lives, own bodies and sexuality. They are angry that they are no longer the sole masters of the universe and will do anything they can to gain back that power.
I would assume that we all care about the agency of our bodies, whether we declare ourselves feminist or not. I would also venture a guess that, given the amount of sex positivity I see from all of my readers, taking control of our sexuality is probably high on the priority list as well. Even if you don’t care to think of yourselves as feminists (though the concept is more about ending the oppression of gender expectation and gender roles for all people rather than burning bras and declaring men and masculinity the “enemy”. All my gender fuckers…you are probably feminists…) taking control of your bodies is just a basic right. A right that has been legal in this country because each individual is free. But the Republican House wants to expand the government to be able to take control over each and every pregnancy. Not only that, but it wants to take control over every woman that has the possibility of carrying a child. As a woman, even as one that doesn’t sleep with cisgender boys, that is still an attempt to control my body. It is still an attempt to shame women who fuck. And Liz puts it perfectly.
Think even further to intimidation. The murder of abortion provider Doctor Tiller and how no one has replaced him in Wichita, Kansas. How many of you have been intimidated at one time or another just for existing the way you exist? Can we stand up and say people who murder aren’t allowed to win? Aren’t allowed to drive a certain type of person out of an entire state? Where does that kind of thing stop if we do not stop it for others?
Or howabout Phil Kline’s complete disrespect for private medical records and inquisition of those who have done nothing except see a doctor? Imagine for a second that your medical records wound up on Bill O’Reilly’s talk show on Fox News. Trans-readers, that’s your name and the doctor that’s giving you hormones. Gay mommies, the doctor helping you conceive. HIV positive readers, your name and a list of fellow patients made public in a conservative, backwards-thinking community.
Standing on the same side as our brothers and sisters on this issue by standing with Planned Parenthood is a symbol–we will not tolerate the stripping of our agency.