by Kate Harveston
How many terrorist attacks have taken place on American soil over the last 40 years? The real answer is almost certainly larger and far sadder than you think. According to the National Abortion Federation, community health centers and abortion providers have witnessed the following atrocities since 1977:
- 655 anthrax threats
- 383 general death threats
- 373 property invasions
- 153 assaults or battery attempts
- 100 acid or stink bomb attacks
- 17 attempted murders
- 11 successful murders
- Three kidnappings.
White people who claim to follow the teachings of the Christian god carried out the vast majority of these attacks, which is why our corporate-state media tends not to refer to these incidents as bona fide “terrorism.”
Most of us understand the decision to seek out medical advice and competent care from a doctor of any kind is a decision best left to physicians and patients. Nevertheless, women-focused health care clinics remain to this day a lightning rod for violence and extremism, most of it based on manufactured political “controversies” and a generally poor understanding among the public of what abortion is or how progressive social programs have made it safe and, historically speaking, rarer than ever.
But even violence and threats of violence don’t seem to be shifting the conversation overmuch in conservatives’ favor. So, they’re turning to political pressure and extortion instead to keep this wedge issue alive — and as messy as possible.
As you may remember, Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards found herself in the Congressional hot seat a couple years ago. You and I know it’s patently absurd to believe this chain of community-focused reproductive health and family planning clinics turns a profit from selling “parts of babies” to black-hat scientists in dark alleyways. Nevertheless, Richards found herself testifying about this and other sick Republican fantasies before a room of virtually all-male bureaucrats in 2015.
She has since stepped down as president of the organization after serving for more than 10 years, but she stayed in the position long enough to come away with a full understanding of the Trump family’s plans for Planned Parenthood — and the tragic place women in America find themselves in under their, and general conservative, “leadership.”
Back in January 2017, Richards recalls, she took a meeting with Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, which, in her words, felt less like a meeting of political minds and more like an attempt at extortion. But what else would you expect from a family of shady businesspeople who owe an astonishing amount of money to an astonishing number of people?
The sole purpose of this meeting, Richards reported, was for Kushner and Trump to attempt to coerce Planned Parenthood into ending its abortion program. If Planned Parenthood wants to keep their federal funding, they said, they’d have to cease fulfilling one of their oldest mandates: providing abortions for women who are not ready for motherhood.
In other words, the meeting was an attempt at coercion that would have sidestepped the constitution and all the apparatus necessary for changing it, had it been necessary. This is democracy?
Richards, of course, had intentions of her own for the meeting: to educate the Trumps on just how essential Planned Parenthood is for women all across the country. Millions of women, many of them from low-income and low-opportunity families, rely on these and other community-based health centers for much more than just abortion, but for vitally important health needs — including counseling, pregnancy tests and advice and STD screenings. In many communities, women in need of reproductive counseling or medical attention have literally no other choice but a Planned Parenthood clinic.
And given how much freedom the GOP wants insurance providers to have in denying contraceptive coverage to women, Planned Parenthood is more essential than ever. The Republican-led Congress plans to strip away even this small shred of a safety net from American women.
And they’re using bald-faced lies to get it done. You’ll hear Republican congressmen and even some congresswomen repeat the falsehood that “94 percent” of services provided by Planned Parenthood are abortions. This statement is false, and we know it.
The Trumps might not, but it doesn’t matter — reality and public opinion both stand resolutely against their mission, so they’ve turned to the only page in the dealmaker’s playbook our president has ever read: Take a closed-door meeting and attempt to extort the other person into giving up what you want. This approach is as cynical and self-serving as politics gets.
Republicans need reproductive rights — which are the same as equal rights, if you believe women are real human beings — to remain a political football. They don’t have anything else to offer their constituents. Their fiscal and social policies are unpopular and depthlessly cruel. So they’re drilling into literally the last issue on which they have any traction among voters: leveraging and worsening the average uneducated voter’s fear, misunderstanding and irrational hatred of a very safe, relatively uncommon and very morally defensible medical procedure.
Though the 14th Amendment protects women’s right to seek abortions, federal law prohibits taxpayer dollars from directly funding the procedures. Planned Parenthood does receive federal funding, but abortions account for a tiny percentage of services they render — just about 3 percent, according to the fairest estimates. Nevertheless, a bill signed by Donald Trump in April 2017 would allow any state in the union to withhold federal money from organizations which provide abortions.
What they miss is that the other life-changing and even life-saving services provided by Planned Parenthood absolutely dwarf their abortion numbers. In 2013, Planned Parenthood provided:
- 4.5 million STD screenings
- 3.5 million contraceptive consultations and services
- 1.1 million pregnancy tests and other prenatal exams
- 935,573 screenings for cancer.
Are children our future? We don’t act like it. The “sanctity-of-life” party rules America right now, but that label is a misnomer if your party stands against virtually everything to do with modern life. They’re not “pro-life” — they’re merely “pro-birth.” After that, all these precious potential lives they shout about in their political mailers get to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and be ignored by lawmakers just like the rest of us.
We have a constitutional amendment that protects the right of women everywhere to have an abortion. This is the same document, you’ll recall, most Republicans pretend is chiseled onto stone tablets because doing so means they get to keep clinging to their guns. The fact that abortion, too, is “settled law” in America seems lost on Republicans and their cadre of magical thinkers.