I was glad to read this morning that at the very least “a GOP push to strip $317 million in federal funding from Planned Parenthood failed.” But at times like these, you have to wonder why, really, do people go after Planned Parenthood. Why is it always in the cross sights? Why is it so easy to convince so many people, at the drop of a hat, that it needs to be the first to go? You can say “because of abortion”, and leave it at that, but most Americans are so vague on abortion to begin with. It’s a word that’s used so much, with so much zeal, that it’s begun to grow more and more abstract to the national conscience. “Well, I’m opposed to it! No need to kill babies! Those women are irresponsible to begin with!” It takes longer to heat up a frozen pizza than to make this standard sort of argument. The argument itself is virtually meaningless. A lot of people have abortions – and the sheer numbers tell us that even among those who make this sort of argument, there will be people who’ll have an abortion at one point or another, or else someone close to the person making this argument just had one last year, or will have one next year.
Maybe all of this is happening because “I’m opposed to abortions” is a whole lot easier to roll off your tongue than “I’m in favour of poor people dying.” Because that’s what such spending cuts are really aimed at doing – they make sure that some poor people simply won’t be around anymore to offend the honest, hardworking, responsible middle-class. Of course, considering the state of the economy, the complete joke of a social net, and the amount of debt so many people are in – being middle-class in the U.S. can largely be an illusion. Trust me, I’ve been there. Supposedly middle-class, and wondering what the hell I’ll eat for the next week. Not being able to afford basic medical care – having to wait until a tooth infection got so bad that I literally could have died from it to finally get it treated at one of the few places in my area where they could at least offer me a discount. And I was one of the genuinely lucky ones, that year. Millions of people have it so much worse. Shit – having a baby this year may mean that I will not be able to pay my student loans on time. I’ve got plans, but if they fall through, my only comfort may be living in Russia. And that’s just how it goes. Uninformed people say, “But Russia! Scary place!” And I say, “for God’s sake, at least I can afford a minimum of healthcare around here!”
So few of us generally want to admit that the system itself is broken, because it means that our place in the system is suddenly under question. Social anxiety trumps the need to be honest – for now. Better to just pretend that it’s “irresponsible poor people” who are dragging everybody down with them.
Remember that old Beatles lyric? “And oh that magic feeling – nowhere to go.” It was when I really felt what that lyric was all about that I began to let go of the idea that I had to appear as though things were fine. Things are not freaking fine, they haven’t been fine for a while. The people who are asking us, Americans, to tighten our collective belts will not be tightening those belts themselves. This thing about Planned Parenthood being a satanic abortion mill is simply there to divide us all. Believe what you want to believe. But don’t tell me that everything’s going to be OK and society will magically be fixed if poor women who can’t afford decent medical care will bleed to death from botched abortions, or else die from cancers that could have been caught early had they had access to affordable screening. These women aren’t the problem.
For more discussion, see Feministe.