Separate, not equal: why reproductive care stands alone

by: Natasha Chart

Thu Jan 07, 2010 at 09:00

(Via DailyKos, via Feministing, from EverySaturdayMorning.)

As gruesome and cruel as this kind of passive aggressive bs may be, 'I'm a stranger who knows nothing about you or why you're at a women's clinic, but I loooooove you, so please don't kill your baby,' I suppose it isn't actually as gruesome as the cold-blooded assassination of women's doctors , or as aggressive as the garden variety physical intimidation and harassing crowds many women's clinic visitors face.

Yet as a commentor at the last BoingBoing link wondered, why can't women just get abortions in hospitals or at the regular clinics they go to so the disturbed, whackjob protestors don't have such an easy and obvious target? I mean, Planned Parenthood works on the side of the angels and all, but the same tireless efforts that make them a beacon to women in need have made them a magnet for the world's Randall Terrys.

I don't know, but maybe that's part of the point. There's nothing like a good public shaming to help the patriarchy channel underclass rage towards those even lower down the pecking order.

The abortion clinic just functions as a replacement for putting people in the pillory or making them wear scarlet letters, which it couldn't if health care providers weren't encouraged to isolate women's care.

Natasha Chart :: Separate, not equal: why reproductive care stands alone
If reproductive health services weren't so hard for women to get, and a lot of women go to these clinics because they don't have health coverage and they're the only place they can afford to get a yearly ob/gyn visit or birth control, especially low income women, it wouldn't be so easy to personally intimidate and embarass them. It wouldn't be so easy to proselytize them in person when you have reason to suspect they may be feeling vulnerable.

(And trust me, proselytizing fundamentalists love to get you when you're down. That's their favorite frakking time to try barging into your life with some snake oil panacea. They talk about it when you aren't around, I remember it well.)

The protestors are sanctioned by society both in the (hopefully not still ongoing) refusal of federal law enforcement to take extremists like those of Operation Rescue's terrorist diaspora seriously, and in the refusal of powerful cultural institutions to reject extremists like Randall Terry:

... Randall Terry, the antiabortion extremist who founded Operation Rescue (and then was ousted from the group) has been a busy man since he moved to Washington, D.C. last year. Most of his activities have focused on President Barack Obama: heckling the president and his nominees in various venues, and performing street theater that features a white man wearing an Obama mask while turning a bullwhip on his confederates.

Terry's "activism" appears to have won the approval of the four Catholic bishops who preside over the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., where Terry, who now leads Insurrecta Nex, a group also founded by him, will make a presentation in an anti-abortion training program later this month, according to a press release sent by Terry himself. ...

As 'regrettable' as the political elite may find some tactics of the protestors, they essentially agree with them.

It's the position of official Washington that abortion is gross and regrettable, that it isn't legitimate healthcare deserving of inclusion in any definition of essential services unless a woman is otherwise going to drop dead on the spot, but if she's just at risk of losing her eyesight or future fertility or ability to provide for her family, screw her. Actually, that last point is a minor difference, wherein the protestors are absolutely willing to see women drop dead on the spot rather than admit that there might be times it's inadvisable to carry a pregnancy through to labor and birth - though for women who can't afford health care of any kind on their own, it's a distinction without a difference.

Though the main thing that the political elite have bought into is that women don't own their bodies, aren't competent to make decisions about them and may only be absolved of dirty slutdom if they've actually been raped.

It's the rape exception that reveals the whole thing for the woman-controlling, slut-shaming sham that it is.

As many others have noted before, if you really believe in the magical separate personhood of a fetus, rape is the only crime that sanctions the punishment of a second party for the actions of the first party. This is clearly a minimum necessary nod to women's obviously crazy belief in their own personhood, because you can imagine the outrage otherwise. It's really the very least that will be done for all those tens of thousands of women whose rape kits are sitting unexamined in the nation's evidence lockers, because we live in a society that's manifestly unserious about discouraging men from committing rape.

So for these reasons, I view violent, abusive, coercive and manipulative protestors as an arm of the State. Because the government refuses to take the logical step of removing women from harm's way by letting them get all their medical care at the same places that less icky citizens get theirs, they must therefore sanction this abuse that's going on in plain sight, in front of gods and everybody, every damn day in the country they're responsible for.

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This is excellent. I would just emphasize that Planned Parenthood does (4.00 / 8)
also function as close to an all purpose center for women's health care, as it provides employment physicals, diabetes screening, thyroid screening, and more. You know, the things that enable women to function. That PP has been reduced, in the general public's mind, to its abortion and reproductive health care services strikes me itsel as a reduction of women to reproductive vessels.

Spot on, thanks for that (4.00 / 1)
And the thing is, women start needing yearly checkups every year much earlier in life than men do. This is woefully underappreciated by the policy apparatus, imo.

Men should get yearly checkups, but really don't have to get serious about it until their mid-30s. Women practically must get yearly checkups from their teens onward. There's so very much more that can go wrong during the time when most men are at their physical peak of health and barely get more than occasional sniffles.

Also, a good Well Woman visit is checking for signs of intimate partner or sexual abuse, which will affect about a third of women in their lifetimes. This is a serious threat to women's physical and mental health, their ability to maintain a career, etc. It's not an epidemic problem for men.

Long story short, women need more healthcare. Letting them tough it out on their lower incomes and higher incidence of poverty is only consequence-free if you're of the batsh*t opinion that it doesn't hurt men and children when women are unhealthy. I suspect a lot of men and children think that's as stupid a belief as I do.

[ Parent ]
whoo hoo! grrl, i just love you! (4.00 / 5)
a take no prisoners guns blazing pro-choice post, and a Twisty link! nice work, woman.

and no, of course the Dem establishment doesn't care about reproductive freedom. it's a nice blerb to include in the party platform, but actually fighting for it? no, let the dirty sluts do that. it's kind of like how the party platform says universal health care is a "goal." for other people, not our elected officials, of course.  

The culture of shame. (4.00 / 3)
Its odd. The similarity of the culture of shame in conservative Iraqi men that was abused at Abu Ghraib, permeates the culture of hard right conservative 'christian' Dominionists as well.

But we have to remember the point of all this isn't stopping abortions it is social enforcement, "you will do as I say." Nowhere is this more evident than in discussions with Dominionists about reducing the number of abortions by distributing condoms, distributing safe sex information or educating the young about sex. This makes them even angrier.

Even angrier.

"You want to help them have sex? Encourage them to have sex!!??!! NOO!!" they often shout.

They want control, over everything, complete social control.

Their "mission" is exposed when they equate two people caressing each other with 'murdering a child' -ie preventing a blastocyst from adhering to the uterine wall.

Women cannot be allowed to be seen as human beings, who can control their own lives. South Florida just gave homeowners the "right" to shoot people on their lawn, so long as they 'feel threatened' ----Hold these thoughts in your mind at the same time, and you will begin to feel how much it hurts the brain to be a right wing loon.


The government has a defect: it's potentially democratic. Corporations have no defect: they're pure tyrannies. -Chomsky

[ Parent ]
It's ghettoization (4.00 / 4)
plan and simple.

From my understanding the reason these centers exist is that the force childbirthers successfully terrorized doctors out of performing abortions anywhere else. They are like the Alamo -- a brave place to make a last stand but also a place where they can pick us off at will.

Montani semper liberi

Awesome post... (2.00 / 2)
I've been volunteering with the Washington Area Defense Task Force since the beginning of the summer. They're an all volunteer organization that has provided clinics in the DC/VA/MD area with escorts, if requested, for the last 20 years.

We're also filming a documentary about clinic escorts with WACDTF, should be releasing details shortly. You can read more about WACDTF at our post about the 20th anniversary: 20 Years of Defending Clinics and Keeping the Doors Open

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