I have a friend who vehemently disagrees with the notion of abortions and she abhors the thought. It is THE reason she identifies as a Republican and accepts a lot of the other more questionable rhetoric spewed from the Right. I have thought, on many occasions, why even we could not agree, substantively, on ways to reduce abortions and why her religious belief on one issue should be forced on others in a country where abortion is legal and based on a women’s right to choose OR not choose (hopefully in consultation with the child’s father and if she is a person of faith, with her God). This Maddow Blog post actually made me think and re-evaluate why the chasm may be so big between my friend and I, and thus, between the two competing sides of the abortion debate.
A larger theme in the Republican war on abortion rights didn’t occur to me until I read it in a comment by GrrrlRomeo on Wednesday’s links post. Since then I’ve seen it echoed a few more times, including on the show last night in the interview with N.O.W. president Terry O’Neill.
The idea, in short, is that if your goal is to restore old-fashioned gender roles and family structure to the American way of life, taking away a woman’s ability to have sex without getting pregnant is a fast way to reach that goal.
From GrrrlRomeo’s comment:
Yes, there is a faction of anti-abortion activists that only want to save the fetuses at any and all costs. But the broader mainstream conservative strategy is the same as it ever was. They don’t think the government should fund services for people they deem to be leading an immoral lifestyle (people who have sex).
While there have been a lot of mentions of Pap tests, no one is really saying what it’s for. It’s a cancer screening for a cancer that’s caused by HPV, a sexually transmitted infection that affects 50% of men and women at some point in their lives.
Here’s Gail Collins in yesterday’s New York Times:
For eons now, people have been wondering why the two sides can’t just join hands and agree to work together to reduce the number of abortions by expanding the availability of family-planning services and contraception.
The answer is that a large part of the anti-abortion community is also anti-contraception.
Beyond the science, there’s the fact that many social conservatives are simply opposed to giving women the ability to have sex without the possibility of procreation.
What we have here is a wide-ranging attack on women’s right to control their reproductive lives…
And N.O.W.’s Terry O’Neill last night:
And here`s the thing — this hostility to women`s abortion rights doesn`t stop with abortion. What we`re seeing across the board really is hostility to women`s reproductive health care rights. We just had a fight in which the extremists in the House of Representatives and in Congress tried to cut off funding, all funding, for family planning clinics that serve more than 5 million women and men every year, right? These are family planning clinics that don`t provide abortions, that provide contraception, pap tests, mammograms, STD testing and treatment, HIV/AIDS testing.
What`s happening is that as abortion — as anti-abortion laws gain more and more traction, we`re also seeing attacks on all of the other aspects of women`s reproductive health. And frankly, defunding the family planning clinics is a public health nightmare in the making. But we`re seeing these attacks across the reproductive health rights.
I also went back and re-watched Wednesday night’s interview with Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, and I believe she was also alluding to this larger theme:
But I think what is important, too, Rachel, that folks understand that literally what the House of Representatives and what Speaker Boehner are trying to do is not end abortion services. They are trying to eliminate birth control and cancer screenings for women. – Will Femia