Tuesday Reads: Fight Back against the War on WomenPosted: December 1, 2015
I’m still spending much of my time thinking and reading about the attack on the Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs. I know we’ve already been discussing it for days, but I just can’t get past the horror of what is happening to women’s rights.
Even Democratic politicians aren’t standing up for women’s rights to control our own bodies these days. They are too intimidated by the hate speech that Republicans and religionists have been spewing for decades. But there’s no excuse for this cowardice.
Women are suffering and dying because of the acts of fetus fetishists who harass women who try to get prenatal care, general health care, treatment for STDs, and legal abortions at Planned Parenthood clinics and other women’s health centers.
I’m mad as hell about this. It’s time for American women to rise up and take back control of their bodies from anti-choice extremists who tacitly encourage harassment of women who are simply seeking health care.
At MSNBC, Irin Carmon gathered public statements from anti-choice groups who claim to oppose violent attacks while at the same time demonizing Planned Parenthood and the women who go to them for health care. Some examples:
The National Right to Life Committee said it “unequivocally condemns unlawful activities and acts of violence regardless of motivation,” and Americans United for Life said, “We categorically condemn this violence.” But in interviews with MSNBC, some grassroots abortion opponents across the country also pointed the finger at legal abortion itself.
“After all these years and millions of babies that have gone to their death, violence is to be anticipated,” said Judie Brown, president of American Life League, in a phone interview with MSNBC. “Because it’s acceptable to violently kill a baby, so why isn’t it acceptable to violently kill other people?”
“We never approve of violence against anybody, whether it’s the unborn babies or the clients of Planned Parenthood or anybody else,” Ann Scheidler, vice president of the Pro-Life Action League, told MSNBC. But, she added, “it’s not the fault of the pro-life movement that someone found out that Planned Parenthood is doing these things. It’s the fault of Planned Parenthood for selling the baby parts.”
Of course no one is “violently killing” babies and Planned Parenthood is not “selling the baby parts.” How can anyone believe that kind of language is not encouraging violence? According to Ann Scheidler,
vice president of the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League, bristle. “Planned Parenthood is a villain,” she said. “They undermine the integrity of families and the morality of young teen girls and kill babies on a regular basis, day after day. We’re not going to say, ‘Oh, poor Planned Parenthood, we should never say anything negative about what they call ‘services.’ Because they are a blight on our culture.”
The Christian Defense Coalition’s Mahoney said, “Our movement utterly condemns violence.” Asked about the fact that Operation Rescue’s Cheryl Sullenger was convicted of conspiring to bomb an abortion clinic, Mahoney said, “Cheryl Sullenger did time in prison for her actions. She now works peacefully to end the violence of abortion.” (Operation Rescue did not return a message requesting an interview but condemned the attack on their website.)….
Scheidler’s Pro-Life Action League is among the organizations that publishes the names, faces, and addresses of abortion providers. Asked if such disclosures could make providers feel unsafe, she replied, “We don’t pose any threat, we in the mainstream pro-life movement…. If they feel threatened, they can always get out of that business, I suppose. It’s not something that would make us back off on our mission.”
Believe it or not, there’s even more violent hate speech at the link.
At New York Magazine, Ed Kilgore discusses the ways inn which GOP presidential candidates have been using the anti-choice extremist tactic of linking legal abortion to historical outrages and injustices like slavery and the Holocaust.
Mike Huckabee is by far the least inhibited presidential candidate when it comes to American Holocaust rhetoric, despite repeated warnings from groups like the Anti-Defamation League. Here was a characteristic Huckabeeremark about a year ago, delivered to a group of conservative Christians practically in the shadow of the Auschwitz death facilities:
If you felt something incredibly powerful at Auschwitz and Birkenau over the 11 million killed worldwide and the 1.5 million killed on these grounds, cannot we feel something extraordinary about 55 million murdered in our own country in the wombs of their mothers?
Another 2016 presidential candidate frequently described as “genial” by mainstream media observers, Dr. Ben Carson has embraced both the Holocaust and slavery analogies for abortion, and has wrapped both in a conspiracy theory that treats American liberals as a sinister and deceitful quasi-totalitarian force plotting to rob the people of fundamental liberties.
During the recent Republican campaign to “defund” Planned Parenthood, Senator Ted Cruz sent a letter to ministers around the country referring to legalized abortion as an “ongoing holocaust.” His father, Reverend Rafael Cruz, who frequently warms up crowds at his son’s political events, is fond of citing legalized abortion (and, for that matter, same-sex marriage, Obamacare, and climate-change regulation) as an example of creeping totalitarianism in America, sometimes comparing it to Communism and sometimes to Nazism.
Senator Marco Rubio has not gone over the brink into Holocaust analogies for abortion, but he has used the slavery meme.
And virtually every Republican presidential candidate has supported the mendacious campaign to accuse Planned Parenthood of “barbaric” practices involving illegal late-term abortions and “baby part sales.”
Kilgore goes on to highlight GOP candidates statements about how people with guns would have been safe from attacks–including concentration camp inmates during the Holocaust!
It’s not difficult to see how toxic these arguments become when combined. If legalized abortion (and its alleged extension into open infanticide via the “barbaric” practices of government-subsidized Planned Parenthood “baby-killers”) represents government-sponsored mass extermination and/or a perversion of the Constitution comparable to slavery, and there is a fundamental right to violent resistance against this and other acts of tyranny, then it could definitely cross the minds of conscientious gun-owning anti-choicers to emulate John Brown or the conspirators against Hitler. After all, the two greatest wars in American history were undertaken to destroy the Slave Power and Nazism. Why not a small individual war against their contemporary equivalent?
Rebecca Traister argues that the terrorist attack in Colorado Springs may convince Democrats to forcefully stand up for women’s reproductive rights. I’m not so sure, but you can read her take on it at NY Magazine’s The Cut: How the Planned Parenthood Attack Could Reverse the Politics of Abortion.
Traister begins by noting that the Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge to the barbaric Texas abortion law Whole Women’s Health vs. Cole. She also points out that the next President could appoint as many as three new Supreme Court justices, and she discusses the extreme views of the GOP presidential candidates on women’s reproductive rights.
It all seems pretty grim, until you notice a crowd of besuited Democrats charging into this dystopian future, swords waving. After decades of treating abortion as a third rail to be gingerly sidestepped, with downcast eyes and sighing exhortations about tragic rarity, at least some on the long-ambivalent left have decided that fighting for better access to abortion is an issue on which they can actually win.
While the topic was not raised by moderators in the Democratic debates, Hillary Clinton went out of her way to bring it up, bellowing with vigor about how Republicans “don’t mind having big government interfere with a woman’s right to choose!” She also regularly includes references to reproductive rights — often using the word abortion and not just the soft-lit language of choice — in her stump speech. Clinton said via a spokesperson that the closing of clinics in Texas is “bad for women in that state and a preview of what every Republican candidate wants to do to women across America.”
Bernie Sanders may bring up reproductive rights less frequently than Clinton, but when he does, he comes out swinging, promising the South Carolina Democratic Women’s Council in November, “We are not going back to the days when women had to risk their lives to end an unwanted pregnancy.” A Sanders campaign aide also told me that the senator supports the EACH Woman Act, which would mandate insurance coverage for abortion services for any woman who requires them, since “abortion care is a part of women’s health care.”
The EACH Woman Act, which stands for Equal Access to Abortion Coverage in Health Insurance, was introduced by Representative Barbara Lee of California as a radical, if long overdue, challenge to the Hyde Amendment, which prevents women who rely on government health insurance from using public funds for abortion. The act surely won’t make it through the Republican-led House anytime soon, but it has 108 co-sponsors and represents a major step in acknowledging the relationship between restricting abortion access and economic inequality. “The Hyde Amendment denied a full range of access to reproductive-health services and care to low-income women, primarily women of color,” says Lee. “It’s about time we fight back.”
Meanwhile, Senate candidates Tammy Duckworth and Donna Edwards have spoken publicly about their youthful reliance on Planned Parenthood, and House candidate Nanette Barragan has described how her sister turned to the organization for an abortion when she was a teen. “Having more women candidates talking about their personal experiences with abortion, or with Planned Parenthood, or even family planning in general, has done a tremendous amount to center reproductive rights as an economic issue,” says Jess McIntosh of EMILY’s List. “The decision of when and whether to become a mother is the most important economic decision most Americans will ever make.”
I’ll add a few more links in the comment thread. What stories are you following today?