Genné-Bacon: Stop the dictatorship over women

On Friday the U.S. House of Representatives voted to strip Planned Parenthood of all federal funding. Why?

Every year, Planned Parenthood provides 1 million cancer screenings, 830,000 breast exams, 4 million tests and treatments for STDs, educational programs to 1.2 million young people, and contraception to 2.5 million people.

Every year, Planned Parenthood prevents 612,000 unintended pregnancies. For every dollar spent on family planning assistance, the government makes back $4 in savings from Medicaid. Why then, would anyone want to cut this vital program? Does Congress really care so much about abortions (which are not included in Title X funding and only represent 3 percent of Planned Parenthood’s services, anyway) that it is willing to sacrifice the health of millions of Americans?

At this point, any legislation limiting abortion or family planning or sex education has nothing to do with abortion and everything to do with controlling women. A 2007 World Health Organization study found that the rate of abortion in countries where the procedure was illegal is almost identical to the abortion rate in countries where it is legal.

Making abortion illegal does not stop it from occurring — it just drives it underground and makes it more dangerous. It is estimated that without family planning assistance, the U.S. abortion rate would be two-thirds higher than it is today. Planned Parenthood saves lives and prevents abortions.

While there are many respectable people who honestly feel abortion is immoral and support policies known to actually have an effect on abortion rates (such as comprehensive sex ed and birth control), the anti-choicers in Congress are not these people. They may hide behind rhetoric about the “sanctity of life,” but they do absolutely nothing to protect it.

These are the men (and a few women) who vote for unnecessary wars that lead to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people, who vote to prevent affordable health care, who favor the death penalty, who feel that your right to own a gun is more important than your right to own your own body. They cut funding for programs that feed poor children, while vetoing tax increases for the super rich. They could not care less about the “sanctity of life.”

These men would love to see things go back to the days before Roe v. Wade. Through their legislative actions, they are saying they do not care that criminalizing abortion does not stop the procedure from being performed, or that women frequently die when trying to obtain illegal abortions. They are saying they want to punish us for having sex lives in the first place, and are appalled that women take control of their own lives, bodies and sexuality. This legislation represents nothing more than the most immature anger in response to a free and modern society in which they are no longer the sole masters.

But the women of this country will not go back. We will not go back to servile status, to forced pregnancy and certainly not to back alleys. We need to fight back. We need to scream and yell at the top of our lungs that we will not stand for this kind of attack.

For those who think this is a non-issue because the amendment still has to go to the Senate and the President: think again. Do not trust that this will end with a single House vote. This is all-out war on American women, waged by conservatives in Congress and elsewhere. This is just one of many assaults on women’s health and rights currently being introduced at both the federal and state level. Do not assume that the Senate and President will always vote in our favor. We need to take matters into our own hands.

If you haven’t already, sign the open letter to Congress being distributed by Planned Parenthood, share your Planned Parenthood stories, and consider making a donation. On Saturday there will be a rally in New York City, and many others are being planned across the country.

The conservatives in Congress have made their voices all too clearly heard. It is time for the women of this country, and all who support their equal rights, to answer.

Elizabeth Genné-Bacon is a first-year graduate student in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology.

Comments

  • penny_lane

    The conservative trolls are going to hop on here and try to apply a reductio ad ridiculum to your argument. I just want to say that you are absolutely correct to suggest that this vote has more to do with controlling women than with controlling abortion, and more people need to stand up and say so.

  • PhysicsAlum

    Also expecting the imminent wave of the YDN Conservatives, and wanted to get in first to express my support of everything said in this editorial. I’ve spent the past few years living in a country (England) where women’s healthcare and contraceptives are affordable and readily available. When I mention to my friends how much it can cost to get the Pill every month in the States, they look at me with confusion: “But that’s just not right!” Good access to family planning and reproductive health services are quite simply part of a civilized society. It looks like things in America are going to get worse before they get better, though. *Goes to donate to Planned Parenthood and sign their letter.*

  • Jaymin

    I see where you’re coming from, but when I try to put myself In the shoes of a congressman, however masculine, I can’t imagine them actually saying to themselves, “hmm how will I conspire to supress women today. Oh I know, let’s take away that abortion thing they all like”. I honestly think they believe it is immoral. Not to mention the myriads of women who agree with them (Michelle bachmann, etc.)

  • The Anti-Yale

    It’s not IMMORAL. It’s UNCERTAIN. That’s what makes one uneasy. Can anyone agree that uneasiness is a reasonable response to socially validated abortion? I agree it ought to be a matter between a woman and her doctor, but making it socially validated makes me UNEASY.

  • penny_lane

    Oh my goodness, when are people going to stop arguing that it is impossible for a woman to be sexist or misogynistic? My grandmother, for example, left the Episcopal church when they started ordaining women. It has to do with implicit cultural prejudices and stereotypes: If the culture is sexist, it’s going to produce sexist *people*, not just sexist men.

  • Jaymin

    @ penny I know the can of worms I’m opening with this comment, but it isn’t impossible that maybe women sometimes ascribe sexism to things that are much more heavily influenced by other predominant factors (in this case religion, etc.).

    I await the rage that will now ensue.

  • penny_lane

    Prejudice against women is sexism, whether it be dictated by religion or no.

  • penny_lane

    (Or against men, for that matter.)

  • The Anti-Yale

    Sexism is the false belief that one gender is inferior to the other.
    Guess which is which.

  • Madas

    Geese, why bother with this one. Anyone who doesn’t recognize this for the disgusting hyperbole and hateful speech it is sexist! And a Nazi too! Probably some other bad stuff… The author is no doubt a soulless, spinster, angry at the world. It’s all true, you can see it in what she says. She may claim she cares about other women, but it’s all lies. She’s just jealous she’s stuck working in a lab all day, and wants to ruin it for those of us with fulfilling lives.

    There. I think I matched the maturity of the author. This is perhaps a little lacking in content, but I don’t know enough about her to make really juicy wild accusations or describe her actions out of context. Pity.

  • The Anti-Yale

    “soulless, spinster”

    The last target of discrimination left in our politically correct world: Those who live alone.

    Ugh.

  • penny_lane

    PK, I think your definition of sexism is a little too easy. A lot of discrimination against men happens because of assumptions that they are superior–or at least, about what roles they take within the family and society. For example, studies find that men have a harder time convincing a boss to let them to be flexible with their hours to take their kids to the doctor, stay home with them when they’re sick, pick them up after school, etc. This is due to the assumption that this is the mother’s job, not the father’s–the same gender roles frequently used to confine women to domestic activities. The same happens when men try to find teaching positions at the preschool level–it’s hard for them not only to convince people that they’re qualified to be caretakers of young children, but people often assume there’s some kind of pedophilia going on. Just see the Friends episode where a male nanny is the butt of most of the episode’s jokes. That’s discrimination at it’s worst, against men, but it’s hard to gauge what place superiority/inferiority have in this, particularly in a broader, cultural sense.

  • The Anti-Yale

    Penny Lane:

    Your comment reminds me of how EXCITED I was to at last be getting a MALE teacher in fifth grade after 5 previous years of female teachers.

    Here’s the REAL SEXIST discrimination against MALES: Biological Determinism.

    Because we were born with a chest which has the potential to develop muscles instead of (shall we say) ” milk-makers”, 160 MILLION young MALES have bought the cultural bias that a male’s DUTY is to overwhelm and subdue opponents, and so, in the last hundred years, the blood of those 160 million males (give or take a few million) has oozed into Mother Earth, making her, I suppose, a kind of galactic vampire.

    Nice.

  • River Tam

    Yawn.

    Planned Parenthood can survive like millions of other non-profit organizations. Without taxpayer dollars.

  • River Tam

    > Every year, Planned Parenthood prevents 612,000 unintended pregnancies.

    Every year, Planned Parenthood commits 612,000 taxpayer-funded abortions.

  • penny_lane

    It’s not a huge number, granted, but 100% of the non-profits I’ve been involved in are funded to some extent by the government–not the least of which is Yale University (which DOES, through YUHS, pay for abortions, by the way, and probably needs taxpayer money a lot less than Planned Parenthood). Planned Parenthood, on the other hand, does not use taxpayer funds to pay for abortions. That money goes towards the many other services that Planned Parenthood provides that help keep Medicaid costs down–including prenatal care, i.e., health care for the unborn (just sayin’).

  • ElizabethGrayHenry

    Wow. Another article saying that people who are pro-life are anti-woman. And I thought liberals claim Republicans are closed-minded name-callers….

  • lizgb

    @ElizabethGrayHenry If you actually read the article carefully, you may notice this:

    “While there are many respectable people who honestly feel abortion is immoral and support policies known to actually have an effect on abortion rates (such as comprehensive sex ed and birth control), the anti-choicers in Congress are not these people.”

    Being pro-life does not make someone anti-woman. There is a difference between being “pro-life” and anti-choice. I respect people who identify as pro-life if they actively engage in practices that are known to prevent abortions. Promoting comprehensive sex education has been shown to reduce abortion. Affordable birth control has been shown to prevent abortions. Making abortion illegal has never been shown to actually stop abortions from occurring.

    If you are truly against the practice of abortion, you should strive to make it as rare as possible. Support family planning assistance, support comprehensive (i.e. NOT abstinence-only) sex education, support programs that give assistance to single parents or struggling families, hell- hand out condoms on the street corner. But do not cut funding for cancer screenings and tell me it’s because you’re “pro-life.”

  • River Tam

    > There is a difference between being “pro-life” and anti-choice.

    People who think that abortion is murder generally don’t want to give people the choice to commit murder.

    People who are “personally pro-life” (ie: think abortion is murder) but are “politically pro-choice” (but you should be allowed to commit murder) are the real hypocrites.

  • The Anti-Yale

    This abortion argument is so polarized. There’s absolutely no interest in the middle position: UNCERTAINTY AND UNEASINESS.