Do you have any idea what year it is? Did you fall down, hit your head and think that you woke up in the 1950s or the 1890s? Should we call for a doctor because I simply cannot believe that in the year 2015 the United States Senate would be spending its time trying to defund women’s health care centers. Y’know, on second thought maybe I shouldn’t be that surprised – the Republicans have had a plan for years to strip away women’s rights to make choices over our own bodies. The Republican plan to defund Planned Parenthood is a Republican plan to defund women’s health care.
Senator Elizabeth Warren
Our goal is to ensure that women with problem pregnancies have the kind of support, material and otherwise, they need for themselves and for their babies, not to be punitive towards those for whose difficult situation we have only compassion. We oppose abortion, but our pro-life agenda does not include punitive action against women who have an abortion. We salute those who provide alternatives to abortion and offer adoption services.
Official View of the Republican Party
Decades ago, feminists came out against abortion because they felt that it gave men a way to treat women simply as objects for sexual pleasure without consequence by allowing them to circumvent the commitment of being a father. Today, any limitation of abortion has become an infringement on a woman’s right to bodily autonomy. How did that happen?
While the Supreme Court decision in Roe vs. Wade in 1973 simply affirmed a woman’s right to have an abortion, the effect was to place no limits on the method, timing, or reasons that an abortion might be performed. This meant that there were no waiting periods, no laws or requirements involving parental involvement or consent and no mention of partial birth abortion. In the years following that decision the ratio of abortion to live births reached it’s highest margin — of 358 per one thousand. Abortion could now be seen as an automatic solution to an unwanted pregnancy. It became an industry that was marketed as a vehicle of liberation by taking advantage of the widespread unfamiliarity of the stages of fetal development.
We have all heard that it’s simply a blob of cells, but by the fifth week, all of the major body organs and systems are formed. By the seventh week facial features become apparent. The hands and feet become visible. The heart has divided into two chambers and beats 150 times per minute, and the baby begins to practice moving. It is without a doubt much more than a simple blob of cells. While thinking about it that way really does make it easier, it just isn’t true.
Earlier this year the House voted to pass a ban on abortions past twenty weeks of gestation. In late September Senate Democrats blocked this ban.
On September 21 Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted:
“on my way to the Senate floor now to discuss the horrifying 20-week abortion ban bill the GOP wants us to vote on tomorrow. #stopthebans”
What Senator Warren is not telling you is that over sixty percent of all American women support this “horrifying 20-week abortion ban”. Of course, if she were to acknowledge that at twenty weeks — which is the halfway point of a pregnancy — the child is almost a foot long, with reproductive organs and a digestive system and is routinely kicking and nudging in the womb — well, then there goes the Republican War on Women.
According to a recent Pew Research poll a scant fifteen percent of Americans believe that abortion is morally acceptable, yet fifty-five percent believe that abortion should be legal in most cases. These numbers tell us with unsettling clarity that people would rather compromise their own morality than be accused of conspiring against women – and this is exactly what liberals like Elizabeth Warren are counting on.
We hear the term partial birth abortion a lot. I’m sure you have, too, but do you know what it actually means? Most likely you don’t want to. Most likely it’s something you’ve avoided trying to understand. The medical term for this type of abortion is D&E: dilation and extraction. Most partial birth abortions take place between twenty and twenty-four weeks or nearly two months into the second trimester. It takes between thirty-six hours and three days to prepare a woman for an abortion of this kind, as her cervix must be softened and dilated, just as in childbirth, using the same medications used in a compromised labor.
Once sufficient dilation is achieved, a suction catheter is pushed through the cervix and the amniotic fluid which has surrounded and protected the fetus, is withdrawn. Once the fluid is removed the doctor will reach for a sopher clamp which is typically over a foot long with rows of sharp teeth. This is a grasping instrument, much like a giant pair of pliers. A second trimester abortion of this kind is a blind procedure, which means everything is done by feel. The doctor will insert this instrument, careful not to perforate the uterus, and grasp at the contents by feel. When the doctor gets a hold of something he will pull hard. When it finally pops free, a small arm or leg is withdrawn and set on a table. Next the spine, intestines, heart, and lungs. The head of a baby that age is about the size of a large plum. The most telling indicator that the head is clamped is a white material running out of the cervix. That white material is the baby’s brains. The procedure can take hours, but before it began, the was stretching, or sucking its thumb, or trying out it’s tiny fingers. There is no doubt that the fetus was aware of a good portion of the “procedure”.
Accurate descriptions of these kinds of abortions are not scare tactics. The reality of what takes place is not a ploy or a Conservative strategy to aid in the denial of women’s health care. Republicans have sought to place limitations on the method and timing of abortions, and the backlash from the left speaks to the moral underpinning on this issue — just as seventy percent of registered Democrats oppose the death penalty, sixty-eight percent identify as Pro-Choice and favor no limitations on abortion. I wonder of that sixty-eight percent, just how many would scoff at the sight of a visibly pregnant woman smoking, or drinking a beer on the patio of a restaurant. The unanimous disapproval of a pregnant woman shooting heroin or popping handfuls of Xanax is a curious thing if indeed that same woman truly has a fundamental right to bodily autonomy during her pregnancy.
And now we come to the recent battle over whether or not to fund Planned Parenthood. Since 2012 Obamacare premiums have doubled. Insurance coverage has been completely dropped for millions of women and families. The doctors that women had come to know and grow comfortable with have suddenly become unavailable. This means that there is a clear need for community health centers, of which Planned Parenthood is but one option. There are currently 13,542 clinics that provide comprehensive healthcare for women compared to only 665 Planned Parenthood locations.
Planned Parenthood has a lengthy and disturbing history of Medicaid fraud; of giving abortions to minors without notifying a parent or guardian in states where notification is required by law; of concealing cases of child abuse and rape. Presently five states have individually defunded Planned Parenthood. Thirteen others have opened investigations. These decisions are not simply because of the videos released earlier this year by the Center for Medical Progress. It’s easy to be cynical about the inner workings of any large organization, but this kind of misconduct should be accounted for, and can be.
Consider this objectively – we are talking about a non-profit organization that has over a billion dollars in net assets whose revenue has exceeded their expenses by over ninety million dollars in 2014 alone. A visit to Planned Parenthood’s website for ‘A Young Man’s Guide to Sexual Health’ will bring you to a checkout page — the pamphlet costs $5. “A Teen Girl’s Guide to Sexual Health? Also $5.
This organization has recently acknowledged that under twenty thousand out of three million clients had received primary care. Over the past five years, Planned Parenthood has given over twenty million dollars in grants to… The Planned Parenthood ‘Action Fund’, making it legal for them to engage in political lobbying – the kind of lobbying they did for Barack Obama in 2012 when they poured money into his campaign. In 2013, Planned Parenthood spent over fourteen thousand dollars per day on travel and client party expenses. Despite being hailed as a non-profit organization, Planned Parenthood currently employs over forty executives that make in excess of two hundred thousand dollars per year. Do you see a pattern emerging?
In November of 2016 large numbers of men and women will vote for whomever the Democratic candidate is because they are the pro-choice party that supports abortion at any time and for any reason. Today we are instructed that to oppose abortion is to deny a woman the right to control her own body. The right to life has become anti-woman hence the Republican ‘War on Women’. Think about that for a minute – an entire political party consisting of men and women of varied backgrounds and heritage all conspiring against women. That makes about as much sense as supporters of Bernie Sanders (74), Hillary Clinton (67) and Joe Biden (72) referring to the Republican Party as the Party of Old White People.