So this Planned Parenthood thing

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.

Way to go, Democrats

As Sarah Jaffe points out,

Representative Bart Stupak (D-Michigan—yes, D, that’s not a typo)… doesn’t think that health insurance should provide abortion coverage. He thinks women should have to buy a separate rider that would cover abortion. Because, y’know, women like me totally plan on aborting lots of babies.

The Stupak-Pitts amendment to the health care reform bill that passed the House yesterday was approved not only by almost all Republicans, but by 64 Democrats, including two women. 26 of them then went on to vote against the health care bill, along with all but one Republican…

It would do exactly what conservative opponents of health care have been whining about for months now: come between a woman and her doctor. It would also come between a woman and her health insurance company, since it creates an additional restriction on what private companies can do—proving once again that when it comes to women’s bodies, there’s no regulation too strong for conservatives.

Awesome. Woo. Because we all know that only wealthy women actually deserve adequate medical care. The rest of us are worthless trash anyway, and should be treated accordingly – both by our congresspeople and the medical establishment.

Ross Douthat: blame the “baby-killers” and their silly demand for rights

Here you go, Jill.

This op-ed by Ross Douthat basically concludes that if only the pro-choice crowd weren’t so gosh-darn uppity, Tiller would be alive today. Or something.

Peoples, if you’re wondering why some elective abortions are performed later than others, go ahead and thank those among us who make access to abortion harder and harder while simultaneously demonizing comprehensive sex education and contraception. Thank those who make women so terrified of being labeled monsters and whores that they agonize for weeks and weeks over something they want to do. Thank Ross Douthat, he of the “women who use birth control are fat bitches out to steal my precious bodily fluids” fame.

The Bible, which is specific on a great deal of issues (everything from the craziness of Leviticus to committing adultery in your mind), is oddly silent on the subject of elective abortion. But the misogynist religious institutions which inform Douthat’s opinions couldn’t possibly lay low on the subject, not now, not with abortion procedures being even safer than actual childbirth. They can’t let the ladies make up their own minds on the subject. Unsatisfied with their own personal right not to have an aboriton, they encourage the faithful to stand and scream outside clinics. When the faithful shoot people, writers like Douthat support them with rhetoric that basically amounts to “well, we don’t support that, but…”

I agree with Lisa that a holistic approach to women’s health will always and forever be necessary. I remember thinking I was pregnant last year, and reflecting on how unfortunate it would be if this was indeed the case – because I think I’d want to have children eventually and being introduced to pregnancy via an uhappy accident is certainly not what I had dreamed of. The holistic approach takes that into account, it also takes into account those of us who are forced to abort wanted pregnancies due to the lack of good prenatal care (odd, that many people who are against abortion are also not in favour of bettering healthcare, and scream “OMG OMG SOCIALISM!!!11!!” every time the subject is mentioned), those of us who abort wanted pregnancies because we can’t face the ugly stigma of single motherhood, those of us who are ambivalent toward pregnancy but can’t make an honest decision in light of the polarizing hoopla surrounding these issues, and so on.

The holistic approach views women as more than mere life support systems for wombs. Ross Douthat, on the other hand? Well, he justifies himself in all sorts of creative ways, even throwing “democracy” into the mix, but I honestly believe that this issue is just a personal squick for him, and it is these personal squicks that other people, apparently, need to contend with when making reproductive decisions.

No thank you.

Oh, and nice use of Kansans for Life to support your argument, Mr. Douthat. Personally, if I wanted to prove that little green men are using the shawerma stand down the road as their outpost to launch a battle for world domination, I’d look no further than the Collected Works of the Lone Gunmen, myself.

Late-Term Abortion, Honour Crime…

Please read this powerful account on a late-term abortion from a guest-blogger at bastad.logic.

Also, check out my review of Rana Husseini’s Murder in the Name of Honour on Feministe.

OK, since all of that was really intense, here’s something to bring a semblance of balance to the Force:

(It gets funnier and funnier as it goes on)

Found via Cara.