Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Mother of all backlashes — from mothers

    Where have they been?

    Where will they be tomorrow?

    Let's hope they are in the political discussion for the long haul, countering the incessant propaganda that has placed their health — mothers' health — under the rolling pin of anti-abortion politics.

     Women who understand the stakes of reproductive health and who support reproductive rights have been quiet far too long.

     But when the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure cut off partner-in-prevention Planned Parenthood, these women spoke.

     At long last.

     They should never let anyone else seize the debate, for it's about them.

     The forces that cheered the funding cutoff, including Mitt Romney, want to believe that this is about abortion. No, it's not, except, oddly, tragically and logically, for the fact that no entity does more to prevent the need for abortion among indigent women than does Planned Parenthood. That's right: prevent abortion, through sound choices.

     And, of course, prevent cancer.

     Jumping on the steed of demagoguery on the Komen matter, the better to be seen by religious-right voters, Republican presidential pretender Rick Santorum parroted right-wing assertions that abortion contributes to breast cancer. Rest assured, his intended audience members weren't experts on the disease. Every major entity involved in the fight against cancer rejects the claim. No matter.

     The fact is, the cyclops force that would  deny women choice has shown at every opportunity that women's health is less than secondary to its concerns.

     Back to the key question. Where have they been —  "they" whose collective rage forced Komen's governing board to reverse its decision?

      In state after state, politicos on the authoritarian right have sought to do the same thing to Planned Parenthood, defund it, regardless of how that would undermine health care for low-income women — ranging from cancer screenings, to birth control, to fertility counseling — yes, women needing help becoming mothers.

     Romney said he supports defunding Planned Parenthood, which is odd. In 2002 he appeared at a Planned Parenthood fundraiser seeking its support, and in a Planned Parenthood questionnaire then he said he supported state-funded abortions.

     But enough about these men talking about matters they cannot ever fully appreciate or understand — like Pap smears and breast lumps. What about the women who do?

     I speak of those who have allowed Republican-controlled legislatures to undermine women's health care on the altar of anti-abortion politics.

      I speak of the women who have watched in general silence (acquiescence?) what The New York Times Magazine called a "war on contraception."

      A Harris Poll found that 90 percent support contraception.

     Hold that. It found that 90 percent of Catholics support contraception.

     Yet Santorum can campaign for president saying that states should have the power to ban it.

     And when asked at a debate on this outrageous notion, Romney can slink away by simply dodging it.

     Today's Republicans apparently are satisfied with doing whatever they can to undermine that function of these women's clinics: birth control.

      Where have the women been? Ah, here they come.

     Bemoaning the pressure brought to bear on Komen, James Taranto writes in the Wall Street Journal online of the "totalitarian feminism" that forced the charity's about-face.

     Sorry, but we've seen nothing of the sort for years. Instead, we've seen red state after red state carve away at women's rights, including their health care, in single-minded — totalitarian? — focus on taking away their reproductive rights.

    We've seen states like Texas impose costly and pointless restrictions — including "informed consent" laws for women seeking abortions, based on specious claims about breast cancer and abortion.

    Face it, Mr. Taranto. For quite some time, politically, it's been no contest.

     Blessedly, the Komen decision has brought concerned women out. We need them long and loud, just like the forces pushing policies that see right through them.

    We need to hear women roar the next time gray-flanneled lawmakers try to do what a pink-hued charity thought was a good idea, for a moment.

   Longtime Texas newspaperman John Young lives in Colorado. Email: jyoungcolumn@gmail.com.


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