If you listen just long enough you can hear Margaret Sanger crying in her grave. As has been par for the “coarse” since the first second Governor Scott Walker came into office swinging and slinging, and Republicans toed the line striding and stentorian on their high hoarse hearse of this legislative session, the next step in making Wisconsin gallop backward is defunding Planned Parenthood. She who wrote in a pamphlet nearly a century ago, “No one can doubt that there are times where an abortion is justifiable but they will become unnecessary when care is taken to prevent conception. This is the only cure for abortions.” She would be wailing, were she alive today. And then fighting like hell.
Let’s get one thing clear at the outset: no one is pro-abortion. There are those of us who believe that a pregnant woman has the inherent right to decide what is best for her body and the embryonic potential within her, and those who believe that abortion is basic murder and any complicity to that act is criminal in nature. Disclaimer: I will not be rubbing together any two cents about this issue, in part because it’s so loaded a topic it’s difficult to discuss without becoming defensive, but mainly because I’m a man and thus my own opinion about so radical a biological contingency that I myself can never directly experience is purely a privilege of the hypothetical, any and all arguments I could make, however substantive, are still symbolic and therefore essentially irrelevant. Look, I can’t even fathom menstruation, right, much less what it would be like for a little living alien dwelling within my abdomen. So I am asking for all the men in the room to follow my suit and the direction of my grade school gym teacher, Glen Freebody: “sit down and shut up.”
Guilt by Association
While we’re at it, let’s clear up another red (state) herring: this is not about abortions. Yet it is, of course. Because politics is as paradoxical as it is despicable, we have to entertain simultaneously two contradictory entities: something is and is not about whatever is being disgust — I mean discussed. So while in truth stripping away the money to Planned Parenthood from the state of Wisconsin in the biennium budget has nothing to do with abortions because NO TAXPAYER DOLLARS FUND ABORTIONS, since Planned Parenthood is associated with terminating pregnancy, it’s SOL. But it’s not only Planned Parenthood. Any and all healthcare providers affiliated with Planned Parenthood, even by way of mere reference — which is not the same thing as referral — will be ineligible for state funding. That includes pap smears and cervical cancer screening, STD treatment and prevention, contraception, mammograms, prostate cancer, so forth and so on. In other words, even (or especially) if a specific healthcare clinic does not perform abortions, still it stands to lose funding due to its potential affiliation with one that does.
And no, there are no separate provisions for victims of rape and incest — none. Informed consent? What’s that?
Hypocrites vs. Hippocrates
Here’s the backdrop. In Walker’s proposed budget he cut $1.7 million annually from GPR funding (general purpose revenue). In a kind of crocodile tear pantomime of rescue theatrics, the women Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) — Senators Alberta Darling, Sheila Harsdorf, and Representative Patricia Strachota — split the definitions’ difference betwixt motion and emotion by reinstating that funding…with conditions. First of all, we’re still making cuts; the $1.7 million a year figure is a reflection of a 10 percent cut (or $193,600) in state money. Again, these are cuts to things like contraception, pregnancy testing, cancer screenings, STD prevention, etc. So instead of eliminating the grant altogether, the effect is mollified, though in reality there’s still a cut.
By pitting themselves as the good guys (sic) who were reaching out in compromise, they cast themselves in the appearance of being pro-family. Indeed, the name of “Women’s Health Block Grant,” motioned by Darling, might as well be called the “Smiley Face Lady Glad” bill. But the devil is indeed in the details. Whether intentionally Orwellian or absentmindedly accidental, Senator Darling wore a pink jacket at the executive session yesterday — Prada I could not say. Imagine a pink elephant…
As Democratic Representative Jennifer Shilling pithily pointed out, at least they weren’t debating this last week when it was National Women’s Health Week (which in a truly bizarre twist of sinister cynicism was championed last week by none other than Walker himself).
Think of chain email. There are three categories: those who create the original message, those who receive it and forward it to their friends and family and coworkers, and those whose addresses have been included by and by but who put a stop to the madness by hitting delete. Now instead of “chain email,” think abortion. That degree of interconnection is prevalent and pervasive. And all would fall in the sum category in Wisconsin no longer eligible for funding.
This would affect at least 50 of the state’s 72 counties, particularly those which don’t even have county public health departments — where Planned Parenthood (or an affiliate) is the de facto department.
In chlamydia, that is. And we’re second to none when it comes to African-American teenage girls getting pregnant. (Leading the nation in knocked up teens and men in prison and whose largest city is the most segregated across the land, Wisconsin’s quite a place if you’re Black.) But let’s not talk about that, heavens no! Priorities, people! Far more urgent than real-life living human beings are the unborn children! In a statement of applause penned today by the Legislative Director of Wisconsin Right to Life, Susan Armacost, praise was lavished to the JFC for preventing taxpayer dollars to kill unborn babies. Did you notice that last line she wrote — about a requirement that a girl’s parent(s) be notified before she receives family planning services? That’s right. To quote Armacost herself, “Finally, parents will not be kept in the dark about activities in which their minor daughters are engaged. Today is a banner day for Wisconsin taxpayers and parents.”
Finally! Our days of promiscuity are over, thank God! More chastity belts, more burkas! Wisconsin is open for business after all (just not that kind of business, ow ow!)
Perhaps she had Robin Vos in mind. The Republican male and co-chair of the JFC could not so much as sit through the entire session yesterday without invoking that magic catchphrase of quote killing unborn children unquote. I’ve said it before, and it pains me to know I will have to say it many more times yet: for the GOP life begins at conception and ends at birth. The whole culture of unwanted pregnancy is truly fascinating. The Right is obsessed with making women bear babies they do not want and/or cannot provide for, while then abandoning all services after the birth, and then it is the Left, who advocated for the pregnant women to avoid the confusing fiasco and heartbreak in the first place, who fights for their rights and services once they’re born.
This is the annoying hangnail of Republican philosophy: goddamn the government by poking its nose in the business of regulation and restriction, of caution and taxation, but it’s a green light to go ahead altogether to peak and poke as it pleases when it comes to personal matters like wireless surveillance and who can marry and who can vote and what’s happening in women’s wombs. The phrase “drunk with power” comes to mind.
Or better yet, dizzy with the DTs:
The point is preventing unwanted pregnancies via education and outreach; contraceptive in order to be more truly pro-creative. “…[W]hen care is taken to prevent conception. This is the only cure for abortions.” We are all “pro life” and want to avoid abortions. There is hardly anything sadder. But let’s move past the rhetoric and symbolism and work mutually to be truly supportive of families, by making sure all children will be loved and wanted.
Good GOP, Bad Gov
It ain’t difficult to discern the thespian ploy here. This is a primitive good cop/ bad cop dialectic at work. Scott Walker, his dipshit-dope hangdog look notwithstanding, is cast as the stern father figure who rules with a tight fist as iron-clad as his very will. (The imperial Walker — so perfect!) His foil, meanwhile, are the women Republican handmaidens dressed as reasonable conciliators. Act I: Mr Patriarch threatens to take away the toy. Many cry. Act II: the chorus of “feminine side” women try to soften the blow by returning it, slightly damaged but now with strings attached. Many cry. Act III: we’re screwed, especially if you have screwed. Many cry.
This was a calculated narrative in order to sugarcoat a poison pill and together with a wink and nod to the fetus fanatics sitting in the front row. The consequences to this are literally and figuratively grave and begin to draw a very definite line in the sand: on one side is what the state used to stand for; on the other is the direction in which we’re heading. We’re in a state that is the opposite of back to the future; Wisconsin is forward into the past. Ergo, I suggest we rename the state to Nisnocsiw. (It’s not that hard to pronounce: Niss-NOCK-sue.)
As can be expected, predicted really, the vote was straight party-line: 12 in favor, 4 opposed.
There are several memorable moments from the session. Here’s a link to watch it.
Rep. Grigsby at 2h 28m 10s – 2h 35m 50s and again at 3h 17m and 35s;
Sen. Lena Taylor at 1h 48m 25s – 1h 53m
So I have an idea, called the “Feeling Crabby Campaign.” It’s still a work in progress(ive), but what I have in mind is sending a card (both physical and in email) to ALL the Republicans in the State Legislature, as well as Gov. Walker. The front side would feature an image like this:
And the inside would read something like “Without Planned Parenthood, the rise of cervical, breast, and prostate cancer, as well as STDs, would skyrocket in Wisconsin. Vote NO to defund Planned Parenthood.” (Exact wording still to be determined.) Any assistance or suggestions would be most welcome. Time is of the essence, so we would need to work on this quickly. I will contact Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. In the meantime, I would love for someone to create a Facebook page for this, another to “tweet” our effort when it’s time. If anyone knows how to create a card in Word or whatever, that too would be a huge help. Thanks so much!