Escalating tensions between establishment Republicans and members of the Tea Party over Planned Parenthood has pushed the GOP into chaos and the government to the brink of another shutdown, with Republican House Majority Leader John Boehner announcing his resignation last Friday.
The consensus is that Boehner decided to leave before he was pushed out, in large part because of his refusal to force a bill through Congress to President Barack Obama’s desk that would defund Planned Parenthood, a bill the POTUS has already said he would veto.
In an overwrought bit of political theater that was quickly shut down by the Senate, the House of Representatives voted Sept. 18 to halt federal funding to the organization while investigating false claims put forth by Republican presidential candidate Carly Fiorina that it illegally profited from the harvesting of fetal organs obtained through termination procedures.
It has been repeatedly reported that only 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services are abortion procedures, but that doesn’t stop conservatives in both parties from attacking the organization’s facilities as “abortion mills” whose existence depends upon the “butchering” of unborn children—a highly inflammatory and inaccurate description of pregnancy termination. The organization primarily provides pregnancy tests, Pap smears, HIV screening and breast exams for women (and applicable services for men) who would otherwise not be able to afford these potentially lifesaving measures, but GOP leaders like Fiorina purposely leave that out because it doesn’t fit their narrative.
It has long been established that the federal government is barred from allocating Title X funds for elective abortions, a fact that is cemented a little more firmly each year with the continued extension of the Hyde Amendment. Still, the GOP counts on low-information voters to swallow whatever manure it shovels down their throats in its pathetic attempt to wage ideological warfare with the Democratic Party at the expense of women and communities of color across the country.
Let’s be clear: If cisgender white men were able to become pregnant, the legality and accessibility of abortion wouldn’t even be a conversation at a cocktail party, let alone a national debate driving the government to collapse. This entire political spectacle is steeped in religiosity, respectability politics, racism and misogyny and is a prime example of why intersectional social-justice movements are so imperative.
The Grand Old Party accuses Planned Parenthood of genocide, particularly in the African-American community—yes, you, Ben Carson—while fighting to eliminate or reduce every single public policy that financially assists marginalized and disadvantaged citizens of color in this country.
Do you see that hypocrisy? Let’s cut welfare and health care for communities of color, but save their fetuses. Let’s focus more on prison creation than equitable job creation, then vilify and shame women, particularly of color, who choose abortion because they refuse to raise children in poverty. Let’s continually evoke the name of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, and the lie that she was out to “exterminate” the black population, while screaming out bloodthirsty support for the death penalty, which disproportionately leads to the execution of black people.
They don’t want us to question why conservative states in the Deep South with the most restricted access to abortions, such as Mississippi and Louisiana, often have the highest (for-profit) prison populations. Instead, we’re supposed to follow a party of convenient Christians wrapped in their false sense of moral superiority as they tell women what they can and can’t do with their bodies. We’re supposed to ignore how they ignore the plight of underprivileged children already here, including children of color trapped in a dehumanizing foster-care system who are too often left homeless when they age out of that system.
As far back as 1966, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., a staunch supporter of Planned Parenthood, called family planning a “special and urgent concern” for black families living in cyclical poverty in the United States, a critical issue that the country had the resources to address. Yet here we are, almost 50 years later, with Republicans—armed with cherry-picked religious conjecture and a capitalist agenda—moving to defund an organization that addresses that critical issue, apparently governing by the creed that support of life begins at conception and ends at birth.
Carson talks about Planned Parenthood facilities being built in black communities to “control the population,” when multiple studies point to the adverse effects of uncontrolled population growth, including the 2006 study “Demographic Transition: An Historical Sociological Perspective,” which states the following:
Rapid population growth impedes economic development, helping to keep a country poor. … Rapid population growth reduces health and welfare, especially of women and children. Rapid growth implies women giving birth from a younger age, experiencing more pregnancies throughout their lives, and bearing children well into their later years. All three are known to cause higher rates of infant and maternal mortality. The first impact of reducing fertility is increasing the health and welfare of women and children.
Rapid population growth increases number and proportion of young people in the society. This increases the demand for education and jobs. Where education and jobs are not available, young people, especially young males, who constitute a highly volatile population, can easily be swayed to violence by demagogic leaders.
That means more bodies for those nice, new prisons; more uneducated people of color forced into low-paying jobs that benefit wealthy corporations; and less chance that communities of color will ever pose a real challenge to white supremacy. If anyone is trying to “control the population” in communities of color, it’s the Republican Party, and it’s easy to see why. Because regardless of what Republicans want us to believe, the white population is growing at a slower rate, while the gap between white wealth and black wealth in the United States continues to widen.
If Republicans cared so much about saving the lives of children, they would support Planned Parenthood as it serves at-risk communities so that children are born into healthy, stable and loving environments strengthened by the dismantling of intergenerational poverty. Most important, they would realize that abortion is personal, not political, and that a woman’s body, of any color, cannot be legislated.
For a party that pushes for privatization, one would think that a woman’s privacy would be paramount. That would be too much like right, though. And the only thing right about the GOP is the side of the political spectrum on which it falls.