Would you like to know my opinion about abortion? That's what I thought. I don't care what you think, either. And that's the way it should be with an issue so personal. Unless it involves you or a loved one, it's none of your damn business what someone else chooses to do about an unwanted or unhealthy pregnancy.
And it most assuredly is not the concern of the government.
Yet the moronic Tea Party Republicans, who came into office with the promise to concentrate on "jobs, jobs, jobs," have so far focused their legislative efforts on "abortion, abortion, abortion." The "smaller, less intrusive government" conservatives want to keep Washington off of your back but will get all up in your uterus.
Anti-abortion crusaders refer to themselves as "pro-life," a misnomer for sure. If you're pro-life, you don't sit in the audience at a Republican candidates' debate and cheer about state executions or that the Republic of Texas has an express lane running through their death chamber. If you're pro-life, you don't scream "let 'em die" when discussing a terminally ill patient without health insurance. The loudest people who claim to be pro-life aren't really that concerned about the already living. In reality, they are merely pro-fetus. In a critical time of economic crises, the House Republicans' obsession with abortion is extending the jobless, homeless recession that has gripped the nation since the Bush regime, like horse manure, hit the dusty trail.
This month, the House, with unanimous Republican consent, passed the "Protect Life Act," a law that would make it legal for a hospital, as a matter of collective conscience, to deny an abortion to a pregnant woman with life-threatening conditions, basically allowing her to die on the floor without legal consequence. The Republican presidential candidates fell all over themselves to out-radicalize each other. Michele Bachmann would force a woman to carry her rapist's child to term, and Rick Santorum even came out against contraception. And these are the people who want government out of your lives.
The most violent act against women by the Tea Party cretins is a bill, sponsored by New Jersey representative Chris Smith, called the "No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act." Since the Hyde Amendment, which has been in effect since 1976, does precisely that, Smith's bill would be merely redundant, if not for its unfathomable cruelty. The Hyde Amendment bans all federal funding for abortion except in cases of rape or incest or to save the mother's life. Smith's bill attempts to further constrict a woman's rights by redefining the definition of "rape" from any form of nonconsensual sex to "forcible rape." This would eliminate date rape, statutory rape, incest, or any other such incident in which the woman failed, for whatever reason, to resist. The bill should be renamed the "Your mouth says no, but your eyes say yes" act.
The backlash against narrowing the meaning of rape was severe enough for Smith to remove the language from the bill but not the bill itself. It sits in the stack with the other 43, including proposals to ban abortion in the District of Columbia by declaring it under federal jurisdiction and forcing abortion providers to perform mandatory sonograms and anti-abortion counseling. These bills are frivolous, however, when compared to the GOP's all-out war against Planned Parenthood.
Long demonized by the right, a congressional committee has begun an investigation into Planned Parenthood to examine their compliance with the Hyde Amendment amid accusations of being a mismanaged abortion factory awash in dirty money. The cult of the fetus cheered lustily while the president of the pro-life Susan B. Anthony List said, "This is a critical step in holding accountable ... a billion dollar business centered on abortion and an unapologetic partner of those who wish to exploit young girls." Meanwhile, on the Planned Parenthood website, the organization claims that last year it performed 1 million cervical cancer screenings, 800,000 breast exams, and 4 million STD tests and treatments. Abortion came to 3 percent of their combined services.
So now the battle to defund and marginalize Planned Parenthood has come to Memphis. The Republican-dominated Shelby County Commission has voted to provide state funding for family planning to Christ Community Health Services, which does not perform abortions. I'm certain the Christ Community folks are compassionate and qualified professionals and might refer a woman wishing to terminate a pregnancy elsewhere after a bit of faith-based counseling, but they also do not provide emergency contraception, which is sort of like going to the Christian Science Reading Room to fill your prescriptions.
If the rabid pro-lifers had their wildest dreams realized and the practice of abortion was once again made illegal, do they suppose that it would stop? Isn't a woman's privacy and good health preferable to returning to a time of agony and secrecy? I don't know a soul who actually favors abortion, either in concept or procedure. No one wants to run out and get an abortion. But unexpected things always happen and criminalizing a bunch of doctors and stigmatizing vulnerable women is not the answer. The irony is that the things that could lessen the need for abortion — sex education, dissemination of contraceptives, abandoning the idiotic "abstinence only" school curriculum — are all opposed by the social conservatives.
When I told my wife that I was discussing this subject, she suggested that a female viewpoint was imperative. Melody would like to say that if a man was the one who got pregnant, we would never be having this conversation. She also wishes to emphasize that no pencil-neck fertilizer salesman from West Texas should be making medical decisions about a family's most intimate concerns, and until a man develops the ability to birth a child, sit down and shut up, Sonny. The surest way to stop this nonsense is to abort this Congress.
Randy Haspel writes the blog "Born-Again Hippies," where a version of this column first appeared.
In the 14 years I've been the Flyer editor, I've gotten lots of hate mail. It mostly used to come in envelopes filled with pages of scrawled handwriting. I read them and put them in the wastebasket, chalking it up as a natural by-product of writing for a liberal paper in the conservative South. Lately, the angry folks have switched to email, and it comes in waves ...